Cats

Dog and cat sitting side-by-side

Getting the Most from Your Pet’s Regular Check-Ups

When was the last time your pet had a wellness exam? 

Ideally, if yours is a relatively healthy adult cat or dog, you’ve been in for a wellness check-up at least within the past year, and that appointment was only the latest in a series of regularly-scheduled exams throughout your pet’s lifetime.

If you’re already following a regular schedule of wellness check-ups, keep it up! 

If you’ve fallen months or even years behind schedule—or even if you’ve never been on a regular schedule of check-ups to begin with—we’re happy to help you catch up with age-appropriate testing and evaluations, followed by personalized plans for regularly scheduled future visits. 

How Often is Often Enough?

Assuming your pet is essentially healthy, how often we recommend you visit us for wellness exams depends primarily on the age of your pet.

Puppies and kittens typically visit us every 3 to 4 weeks, starting when they’re 6 to 8 weeks old and ending when they’re 16 to 20 weeks old. We usually schedule their next wellness exam a year from their final puppy or kitten visit.

For most generally healthy adult pets, we recommend scheduling wellness check-ups once a year. 

 Most senior pets benefit from twice-yearly check-ups as the risk of health problems increases with age. We consider medium-sized dogs to be “seniors” when they’re about 7 years old, with large and giant breed dogs achieving senior status a year or two earlier and small dogs and cats considered seniors somewhat later. Your veterinarian can determine the life stage appropriate to assign your pet. 

What to Expect at a Wellness Check-Up

A wellness check-up covers multiple aspects of your pet’s health and includes your input about your pet’s apparent health and wellbeing and your veterinarian’s observations, hands-on physical examination and testing. Here are the services you can expect:

  • We’ll record your pet’s weight, temperature, pulse rate and respiration rate.
  • We’ll talk to you about what you feed your pet.
  • We’ll ask about your pet’s behavior, lifestyle and medical history.
  • We’ll perform a complete physical examination, checking from nose to tail for any signs of health problems. We’ll do an oral exam, listen to your pet’s heart and lungs, examine your pet’s eyes, look into your pet’s ears, score your pet’s body condition to determine if his or her weight is within a healthy range, feel lymph nodes and organs within the abdomen, check reflexes, watch your pet move, and assess any indications of pain.
  • We’ll order diagnostic tests appropriate for your pet’s age, lifestyle and general health. 

Typical Tests

Most adult dogs and cats should have a fecal exam at least annually to check for intestinal parasites. Puppies and kittens are especially vulnerable to worms and should have fecal tests more often.

All dogs and cats older than 7 months should have their blood tested for heartworms before starting a preventive. Once we’ve ruled out an active heartworm infestation, we recommend year-round preventive protection for the life of the pet. We repeat the heartworm test annually to be sure it’s still safe to prescribe the preventive for another year. 

For cats, we recommend including testing for feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). 

Depending on your pet’s age and general health, we may recommend a range of blood tests that generally become more extensive as your pet ages. These tests can indicate potentially serious systemic health problems long before your pet shows any visible symptoms.

Vaccines and Parasite Preventives

We will recommend core vaccines, along with additional vaccines that may be appropriate for your pet based on his or her risk of exposure to disease. Once we’ve begun administering vaccines, you’ll find your pet’s upcoming vaccine and booster schedule printed on our invoices. 

See our post “Essential Vaccines to Protect Your Pet” for much more information about vaccines.

All cats and dogs—including those who spend all their time indoors—are at some degree of risk for heartworms, fleas, ticks, intestinal worms and other parasites. Based on your pet’s age, home environment and activities, your veterinarian will recommend a personalized plan to prevent parasite infestations. 

See our posts “Protecting Your Pet From Heartworms” and “Your Pet Can Make You Sick” to find out more about how common parasites can endanger your pet and your human family. 

More Wellness Exam Topics for Discussion

If you haven’t yet neutered or spayed your pet and you don’t intend to breed him or her, your veterinarian may discuss spaying or neutering at your pet’s wellness check-up. See our post “When to Spay or Neuter? It’s Complicated” for information about the best timing for this generally recommended procedure.

If, during the oral exam, the veterinarian detects problems with your pet’s teeth and/or gums, we may recommend scheduling a dental cleaning under anesthesia followed by regular at-home care to maintaining your pet’s oral health. See our post “Time to Focus on Your Pet’s Dental Health” for an overview of your pet’s dental health concerns.

Based on the veterinarian’s physical examination and assessment of your pet’s body condition, the wellness check-up may include advice on helping your pet achieve a healthier weight. See our post “Overweight, Obesity and Your Pet’s Health” on the benefits of maintaining your pet’s healthy weight. The post includes links to videos and reference charts showing you how to evaluate your pet’s body weight for yourself. 

If the veterinarian observes potentially problematic behavior by your pet, or if you ask about behavior problems your pet is exhibiting at home, we will offer advice on how to address the issues. Read articles in our blog’s “Behavior and Training” category to learn more about common behavior problems and how to handle them. Keep in mind, some changes in behavior can be caused by medical problems, so further examination and testing may be needed to rule out health-related behavior issues.

If your pet has a microchip, the wellness exam offers a good opportunity to scan the chip to confirm it’s still in place and readable. If your pet doesn’t yet have a microchip, your veterinarian will recommend one. See our post “Microchips Help Lost Pets Get Back Home” to find out more about microchips and why your pet should have one. 

Preparing for Your Pet’s Next Wellness Check-Up

Once you’ve scheduled an appointment for your pet’s wellness exam, take these steps to prepare:

  • If your pet has been treated at other veterinary clinics and you haven’t yet transferred his or her medical records to our clinic, contact the previous providers and have them forward your pet’s records to us. Having the records available helps us learn about your pet’s medical history and avoid duplicating recent tests and vaccines.
  • Make a list or take photographs of all the drugs, supplements, foods and treats you give your pet.
  • Write down your questions about caring for your pet and ask them during the appointment. 
  • If you can collect a fresh stool sample the day of the exam, bring it along.

A Special Note for Our Cat-Owning Clients

While about 80% of pet dogs’ owners report making at least one veterinary trip per year for preventive care, only 47% of cat owners say they seek preventive care for their cat at least annually. 

We know our feline patients are every bit as lovable and worthy of good health care as the canines, so we have to wonder why so many of them are not receiving the wellness care they need. Here are some possible reasons for the disparities:

  • Many people consider cats “low maintenance” pets that don’t require health care at all unless they’re noticeably ill or obviously experiencing a medical emergency. They honestly believe their cats are “just fine” and simply don’t need routine preventive care.
  • Owners who keep their cats indoors sometimes mistakenly assume they’re at minimal risk for health problems. While they are somewhat safer than outdoor cats, even indoor-only cats can experience obesity, urinary tract problems, parasites, dental disease and other serious health concerns. 
  • Cats are more likely to hide their pain or distress than dogs, making health problems harder for their owners to detect. Most cats don’t show obvious signs of pain or such illnesses as kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, osteoarthritis and cancer until the problem is advanced.
  • Some cats find being contained in a carrier and transported to and from our clinic to be extremely stressful, causing their owners to conclude their cat “hates the vet.” Understandably, they postpone the trying ordeal of transporting the cat to an appointment. See our post “How to Carrier-Train Your Cat” for advice on helping your cat overcome his or her fears and resistance to being contained and transported in a carrier.

We know our cat-owning clients love their pets and want nothing but the best for their happy, healthy lives. If it’s been more than a year since we examined your cat, we strongly recommend your committing to regularly-scheduled wellness check-ups from now on as the very best way to demonstrate that love and care for your cat.

Your Best Investment in Your Pet’s Health

As you can see, wellness check-ups and the associated services and products needed to evaluate your pet’s health are typically quite extensive. We know the combined costs of a complete physical exam, blood panels, fecal tests, vaccines lasting for one to three years and preventives to protect your pet throughout the entire year ahead can add up to hundreds of dollars—especially for an older pet with comprehensive blood work ordered and multiple vaccines due. 

Fortunately, you can budget for these planned appointments and set aside funds in advance to cover wellness check-ups. If you’d like to know how much to set aside, we are happy to provide an estimate of what your pet’s next wellness check-up will most likely cost.

Still, we understand why you might feel reluctant to spend money on a pet that seems perfectly well and why you might be tempted to postpone the next exam. Here are reasons why the money you invest in regular wellness check-ups for your apparently healthy pet is money well spent:

  • Keeping up with vaccines and heartworm and flea and tick preventives help protect your pet and your family from common, serious and expensive-to-treat diseases.
  • Pets—especially cats—are good at hiding illness. Regular check-ups can detect hidden health problems and give us a chance to treat them before they become more severe, more painful and harder to manage. 
  • We can provide better, more personalized care if we’ve set baselines for test results and examined your pet when he or she is healthy. Based on our familiarity of what good health looks like for your pet, we’re better able to notice subtle signs of illness during the next routine exam or diagnose and treat your pet in an emergency. 
  • If our exam indicates your pet is essentially healthy, you enjoy the peace of mind that comes with confirming your pet’s good health. Our “not finding anything” during a wellness exam is good news!

Building Personal Relationships One Exam at a Time

We see you as your pet’s healthcare advocate and our partner in caring for our patient. Like you, we want the best for your pet in terms of healthy longevity, comfort and quality of life. 

Strong, trusting veterinarian-client-patient relationships are foundational to the best health outcomes for your pet. These relationships are most reliably built on regularly scheduled check-ups over the lifetime of your pet. 

In addition to the medical knowledge we gain from routine testing, observation and hands-on examinations of your pet, regular preventive care visits give all of us opportunities to get to know and trust each other. We use the information we gather as we build our relationships during your regular visits to help guide our conversations and inform our recommendations.

Our growing familiarity with you and your pet combined with our breadth and depth of experience caring for all our other patients and clients allow us to make personalized recommendations about a range of pet care topics, custom-tailored for you and your pet. 

Our shared goal and most likely outcome is a happier, healthier, longer life for your pet.

Starting Here, Starting Now

No matter how long it’s been since your pet’s last check-up, we can start from where we are now and move forward toward your pet’s best possible quality and length of life, using the next wellness exam to catch up on your pet’s physical condition, blood tests, vaccines and preventives. 

No matter how long you’ve postponed a wellness check-up, your pet’s next check-up is our opportunity to make a fresh start on a personalized plan to support your pet’s long-term health and wellbeing.

We look forward to seeing you and your pet soon!

Getting the Most from Your Pet’s Regular Check-Ups Read More »

Close-up of cat's face

How to Carrier-Train Your Cat

Whether they’re consciously aware of it or not, our clients often resist bringing their cats to us for veterinary care simply to avoid the stress and strain of getting the cat into a carrier and transported to and from our clinic. 

This February, in honor of National Cat Health Month, we encourage all our cat-owning clients to devote the month (plus a few weeks more, if needed) to helping their feline friends conquer any carrier fears that may cause their owners to avoid vet visits. 

The training is easy and takes only a few minutes a day. The benefits of having a calm, carrier-ready cat are well worth the effort. 

Choosing the Right Carrier

Even if you already own a carrier, you may evaluate its suitability for your particular cat in terms of design, construction and size by reviewing advice about new carrier selection. 

If you plan to bring more than one cat to our clinic at the same time, we strongly recommend you provide each cat with its own carrier. Even cats that get along well together at home may not be comfortable and peaceable within the confines of a single carrier. 

To help you evaluate a carrier you already own or choose a brand new one to buy, we found an excellent article co-written by a veterinarian, “How to Choose a Cat Carrier,” on WikiHow.com.

A Guide for Choosing the Best Cat Carrier” from Hill’s (the pet food company) more briefly covers the basics of carrier selection.

We also found two recent articles rating currently available carriers:

People recommends one carrier saying, it “Fit our two large cats comfortably.” As noted above, we advise against transporting multiple cats in a single carrier.

Please note, too, that websites publishing product rating and review articles like these typically earn a commission if you purchase a product after clicking a link in the article.

Introducing the Carrier to Your Cat

Once you have the appropriate carrier in hand, carrier training begins with getting your cat familiar and comfortable with the carrier long before you need to contain the cat for transport.

If you’re storing your cat’s carrier in a closet, basement or garage, bring it out now into an area where your cat spends time so it becomes a familiar part of the room’s furnishings. 

If the carrier has been used for previous stressful car rides, there may be stress pheromones still present and detectable by your cat. Before putting the carrier out for your cat to explore, wash and rinse it thoroughly, leaving it to dry in the sun.

Here’s a brief video from the American Association of Feline Practitioners, “How Can I Get My Cat to Become Comfortable With the Carrier?” on the benefits of familiarizing your cat with the carrier well before any trips to the vet.

Seeing Carrier Training in Action

Here’s an easy-to-follow, step-by-step demonstration of carrier training in action. Each of the 6 parts of this video series averages less than 2 minutes’ running time, allowing you to use the embedded link below to watch the whole playlist in less than 15 minutes.

Here are links to the individual steps:

Step 1: Settling on a Blanket

Step 2: The Open Base of the Carrier

Step 3: The Open Door Carrier

Step 4: Closing the Door of the Carrier

Step 5: Building Duration

Step 6: Moving the Carrier

We suggest using the embedded link to the entire series to get an overview of the training process and then using the links to the individual steps to complete each one according to your cat’s own timetable. With patience and lots of treats, you will almost certainly ease your cat’s anxieties about its carrier. 

For more carrier advice from the American Association of Feline Practitioners, see “5 Tips to Help Cats Accept Their Carriers.”

The Day of the Appointment

On the day of the appointment, you may withhold your cat’s food to help reduce the risk of vomiting caused by motion sickness. 

Cats use feline facial pheromones to mark their territory as safe and secure. You may consider spraying a synthetic version of feline facial pheromone into your car and the carrier itself at least 10 to 15 minutes before leaving your house for the appointment. We offer Feliway® brand synthetic pheromone spray for sale in our online store.

You may also place a favorite toy and familiar-smelling bedding or clothing in the carrier to further ease your cat’s anxieties.

The Drive to the Clinic

Once your cat is contained in the carrier, carry it to your car—not by gripping the handle on top—but by supporting the carrier in your arms from the bottom. Use the handle only for lifting off the top half or moving an empty carrier.

In the car, place the carrier on a level, secure surface, such as the floorboard behind the front seats.

Many cats are most comfortable with the carrier covered with a towel or blanket to block unfamiliar sights and muffle unfamiliar sounds during the ride to the clinic. You may leave the carrier covered in the lobby, but we suggest removing the cover after you’re alone with your cat inside the examination room. 

Leave your cat inside the carrier until the doctor or a team member asks you to remove it. As an alternative to having you take your cat out through the door of the carrier, we may remove the carrier top and allow the cat to stay secure in the open bottom half while we conduct our examination.

Getting an Untrained Cat Into a Carrier

If you need to get your cat into a carrier immediately, before you have a chance to complete any training, here are steps you can take:

  • Put the carrier in a small room with few hiding places.
  • Bring the cat in, along with some toys and treats, and close the door.
  • Use the treats and toys to encourage the cat to enter the carrier through the open door.
  • If the cat won’t go in, and the carrier has an opening in the top, gently pick up and lower the cat into the carrier from the top.
  • If your carrier’s top half can be removed, try getting your cat into the carrier base and then replace the top.
  • If necessary, wrap the cat in a towel or blanket to contain it inside the carrier and avoid being scratched.
  • Stay calm, move slowly and don’t chase the cat.

Allow yourself plenty of time to get your untrained cat into the carrier. By remaining calm and being patient, you will reduce your cat’s fears and anxieties and your own stress and frustration.

Bringing Your Cat Home to Other Cats

Cats who’ve visited our clinic may smell different and seem unfamiliar upon returning home to other cats in your household. 

Once you’ve returned home, leave the returning cat in the carrier to see how the other cats react. If they hiss and seem aggressive, put the returning cat into a separate room with food, water, a litter box and a comfortable bed with the cat’s familiar scent on it. 

Within a few hours back home, you may cautiously allow contact with the other cats to see if the returning cat’s normal scent has been restored. If the cats still seem angry or aggressive, or if they run away from each other, separate them for a longer time. 

If problems persist, consider using a Feliway® brand synthetic pheromone diffuser kit to distribute calming pheromones into the cats’ home environment.

More Ways to Celebrate Cat Health Month

This year, we decided to focus on carrier training during Cat Health Month because getting your cat into the carrier is the first step in getting your cat to our clinic. We understand the harder and more stressful it is, the less likely you are to schedule an appointment.

For more general guidelines about cat health, we recommend these resources:

Cat Still Stressed? Let Us Help!

If, despite your best efforts at carrier training, you cat is still overly anxious and stressed by trips to our clinic, talk to your veterinarian about anti-anxiety drugs you can administer at home before your appointment. 

How to Carrier-Train Your Cat Read More »

Puppy and kitten

When to Spay or Neuter? It’s Complicated.

February is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month, with World Spay Day to be observed on the fourth Tuesday. 

Like most veterinarians, we at Brownsburg Animal Clinic generally recommend spaying or neutering any pet not intended for breeding. 

But in recent years, we’ve been following research that indicates we should fine-tune each pet’s most appropriate age for the procedure, ranging from five months to as old as two years, depending on the pet. 

If you’re the owner of a kitten or puppy, our veterinarians will discuss the best time to spay or neuter your pet. 

The Benefits of Spay/Neuter

The practice of routinely spaying and neutering pets has long been recognized as the best way to reduce the pet overpopulation problem while saving pet owners the trouble and expense of unwanted litters.

Spaying helps protect female pets from serious health problems such as uterine infections and breast cancer. 

Neutering male pets can reduce the risk of developing an enlarged prostate and testicular cancer.

Many owners find their pets’ behavior improved after surgery to remove their ovaries or testes. While the procedures have no effect on a pet’s intelligence, activities or performance, spaying and neutering can reduce unwanted behaviors associated with mating instincts, such as roaming, aggression and marking. 

Many people believe spaying and neutering makes pets better companions.

When to Spay or Neuter? These Days, It’s Complicated.

During the past decade, veterinary researchers have come to understand the hormones that make procreation possible and cause undesirable mating behaviors may also affect pets’ overall health. For dogs, it now appears the most appropriate age for spaying and neutering can vary widely from pet to pet. 

While the consensus among feline specialists is to spay or neuter all kittens not meant for breeding before five months of age, evidence is accumulating to suggest routinely spaying or neutering all dogs at the same young age may increase the risk of orthopedic problems and some types of cancer for some animals. 

One 2020 study of 35 dog breeds suggested early sterilization in some dogs appeared to increase the risk of diseases such as cranial cruciate ligament rupture, hemangiosarcoma, mast cell tumors, lymphosarcoma and hip dysplasia. 

According to the study report, “The overall major finding from the present study is that there are breed differences—and sometimes sex differences—with regard to the increased risks of joint disorders and cancers associated with neutering at various ages.”

The study’s authors encourage using data-based information to make case-by-case decisions with your veterinarian about the appropriate age to neuter your puppy or young dog. 

The authors noted, “an elevated risk for a joint disorder or cancer occurs in relatively few of these breeds. In other words, with most breeds or sexes, neutering can apparently be done without referral to a particular age, at least with regard to the joint disorders or cancers covered in this study.

“To just delay neutering by a year or so to lower the risk of a joint disorder or cancer in those breeds where the issue is relevant, is a noteworthy goal, making it worthwhile [for veterinarians] to discuss appropriate ages to neuter with caregivers who have a new puppy.”

Our Advice

At Brownsburg Animal Clinic, we strongly recommend spaying and neutering at the appropriate age as the best option for any dog or cat not intended for breeding. 

For kittens, we agree with our colleagues specializing in feline medicine that the procedure should be done before five months of age.

As we learn more about the long-term risks of routinely spaying and neutering dogs at a set young age, we are taking a more individualized approach to recommending the ideal age for the surgery based on your pet’s breed, size and gender. We’ll talk with you about what the latest research indicates is the best time to spay or neuter your pet. 

Additional Reading

The American Veterinary Medical Association offers general background information for pet owners on spaying and neutering.  

The AVMA website also has a page about spaying and neutering for veterinarians, offering guidance on making the best recommendations for their feline and canine patients.

The American Animal Hospital Association’s article, “When should I spay or neuter my pet?” outlines the considerations to discuss with your veterinarian when deciding the appropriate age for spaying or neutering.

Frontiers, a publisher of scientific research papers, offers the full text of the 2020 study report referenced above.

The 35 breeds included in the study are, alphabetically, Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, Beagle, Bernese Mountain Dog, Border Collie, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Bulldog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Cocker Spaniel, Collie, Corgi (Pembroke and Cardigan combined), Dachshund, Doberman Pinscher, English Springer Spaniel, German Shepherd Dog, Golden Retriever, Great Dane, Irish Wolfhound, Jack Russell Terrier, Labrador Retriever, Maltese, Miniature Schnauzer, Pomeranian, Poodle-Miniature, Poodle-Standard, Poodle-Toy, Pug, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard, Shetland Sheepdog, Shih Tzu, West Highland White Terrier, and Yorkshire Terrier. 

In addition to general guidelines related to body size, the report includes specific recommendations for each breed. 

When to Spay or Neuter? It’s Complicated. Read More »

Gloved hands pulling back a dogs upper lip to examine teeth

Time to Focus on Your Pet’s Dental Health

By their third birthday, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease, leading to progressively worsening infections and inflammation of the gums and bone that surround and support the teeth. Most of this dental disease happens below the gum line, where you can’t see it. 

As the disease progresses to more advanced stages, you may observe these signs:

  • Bad breath
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Discolored or tartar-covered teeth
  • Abnormal chewing, drooling or dropping food
  • Reduced appetite or refusal to eat
  • Pain in or around the mouth
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Swelling in areas around the mouth

If left untreated, dental disease can cause your pet to lose teeth and, if infection spreads into the bloodstream, can damage your pet’s heart, liver and kidneys with potentially deadly consequences. 

Treating and even preventing periodontal disease is a joint effort between your veterinary team and you. Here’s what we can do. 

How Your Veterinary Team Can Help

Our veterinarians routinely make a dental health evaluation and counseling part of your pet’s regular yearly (or twice-yearly for older pets) preventive exam. 

If, during our visual inspection of your pet’s teeth and gums, we detect signs of periodontal disease, we will most likely recommend a complete dental examination and cleaning, provided our initial physical examination and blood work confirm your pet is healthy enough to undergo the anesthesia necessary to do the exam and cleaning thoroughly and safely. 

Before we begin, we will let you know the estimated cost of the procedure and any possible additional services we may find we need to provide, such as extracting teeth, once we begin the exam. 

We understand you may be concerned about anesthetizing your pet for the dental procedure. Although there are always risks associated with anesthesia, the process is generally safe and we take every precaution to assure the procedure goes smoothly.

If you have questions about our anesthesia protocols, please ask them!

Once your pet is under anesthesia, we proceed with a complete, stress-free, pain-free oral exam with x-rays to show us any problems beneath the gum line such as broken teeth and damaged roots, bone deterioration, abscesses or infections. 

Next, we clean your pet’s teeth thoroughly, including under the gum line, followed by scaling and polishing. 

After the procedure, your veterinarian will give you a full report on the state of your pet’s dental health and advise on any aftercare needed when you come to pick him or her up. 

How You Can Help

Brushing your pet’s teeth regularly—ideally, daily—is the most effective thing you can do to maintain your pet’s dental health between cleanings and slow the progression of any developing periodontal disease. 

Daily brushing at home can reduce the frequency or even eliminate the need for professional cleanings, so it is well worth the effort.

Unfortunately, only a small percentage of dog and cat owners brush their pets’ teeth. A 2016 marketing survey conducted in Canada reported only 7% of dog owners said they brush their dogs’ teeth daily. In Sweden, only 4% of dog owners reported daily brushing.

According to the AVMA, “Although daily tooth brushing is advised for dogs and cats, a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Dentistry showed that only 2% of dog owners follow through with this practice.”

We haven’t come across reliable research data on tooth brushing by cat owners, but we’d estimate very few of our cat-owning clients brush their cats’ teeth.

Despite the discouraging statistics, we hope you will be willing to give tooth-brushing a try. For written instructions, here’s a news release from the AVMA documenting the process.

While brushing your pet’s teeth is the most effective home dental health care, your veterinarian may also suggest alternatives such as dental treats, chews, diets and water additives. 

The Veterinary Oral Health Council, which has been awarding its VOHC Seal of Acceptance to dental health products for pets since 1998, lists accepted products for dogs and cats on its website.

You’ll find many of these products and more available in our online store. Just search for “dental” to see our full line of dental health care products. 

Your veterinarian will be happy to recommend the best products for your pet. 

A Common, Preventable Disease

Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition we diagnose in our adult patients, but as the statistics show, we have plenty of opportunity for improvement! 

Besides the low rate of regular tooth-brushing by pet owners, the AVMA reports a survey of pet owners showed that only 14% of dogs and 9% of cats receive dental care at the veterinarian’s office.

We can do better! 

By working together to provide regular professional and home care, we can detect periodontal disease early and perhaps even prevent it entirely. Your pet will be healthier and more comfortable, and you will avoid the stress and expense of dealing with advanced periodontal disease. So let’s collaborate now to improve and maintain your pet’s dental health. 

Time to Focus on Your Pet’s Dental Health Read More »

Large cat

New Year’s Resolutions for Overweight Pets

The most common New Year’s resolution for humans is to lose weight. With an estimated 58% of cats and 54% of dogs in the United States overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, the coming new year could be a great time to resolve to help your pet lose weight.

Why does it matter? As with humans, overweight and obese pets run a greater risk of developing a number of medical problems, including:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart and respiratory disease
  • Cranial cruciate ligament injury
  • Kidney disease
  • Many forms of cancer
  • Decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)

We’re Here to Help!

Before you begin a weight loss program for your pet—particularly if the problem is severe and/or the pet is older or has other health issues—we strongly encourage you to visit our office for a physical exam and consultation with one of our doctors to develop a safe, effective, individualized weight loss plan.

Our first step is to determine if your pet actually is overweight and to set an ideal, healthier weight for your dog or cat.

We’ll talk about what you’re feeding your pet—including treats and table scraps—and calculate how many calories your pet should be consuming each day. Then we do the math to translate calorie requirements into the amount of food you should be feeding each day to achieve a healthier weight at a safe, comfortable pace. And we do include treats in our calculations!

We also discuss opportunities for increasing your pet’s physical activity, taking into consideration your pet’s age, general health and present fitness level as well as your lifestyle, interests and ability to exercise alongside your pet. If you’re able-bodied and interested in getting more exercise yourself, we might recommend a gradually increasing regimen of walking or jogging with your pet. If you are not interested in or able to exercise yourself, we may suggest teaching your dog to play fetch or encouraging your cat to chase a laser (if your cat doesn’t find lasers too frustrating) or a string toy (under human supervision only).

Another option for increasing activity levels for cats is to use a puzzle feeder, which is a food-dispensing toy you can buy or make for your cat. We found a great blog post on puzzle feeders that includes instructions on how to make your own.

With the nutrition needs calculated and the plan for increasing activity levels mapped out, we will most likely send you and your pet home to implement our recommendations.  We will schedule an appointment for a recheck to determine how well the weight loss plan is working for your pet.

Happily, for many otherwise healthy pets whose owners stick with our plans, these weight loss recommendations work! As the dog or cat approaches the target healthy weight, we adjust the nutrition and exercise program to maintain success over the long term.

If, at the first follow-up appointment, we find the pet is having difficulty losing weight despite good compliance with the feeding and exercise program, we may test thyroid function—particularly in older animals—to rule out hypothyroidism, which makes weight loss difficult.

Our veterinarians may also recommend a prescription food to promote weight loss, such as Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution—more commonly known as Hill’s Metabolic Diet.

We have recently been trying this food with a number of our overweight patients, and the results have been promising. Before releasing this food several years ago, Hill’s conducted in-home trials with 314 pets. 96% of dogs and 81% of cats lost weight in just two months.

This innovative nutrition formula from Hill’s helps pets lose weight by boosting their metabolic rate, regulating appetite and reprogramming the genes that control metabolism so they behave more like those of lean animals.

For more details about how this product works, we recommend this article on the PetMD web site. And here’s a blog post about Hill’s Metabolic Diet by a veterinarian at mypetsdoctor.com.

Hill’s Metabolic Diet is available at Brownsburg Animal Clinic by prescription in dry and canned form and as treats. To use this food to treat overweight or obesity, our registered veterinary technicians take initial  measurements and continue treatment with required monthly monitoring.

Resolved?

Ready to make that resolution to help your pet slim down? Call us during office hours to schedule your exam and weight loss consultation for the new year!

New Year’s Resolutions for Overweight Pets Read More »

Dog with snow on its face

Keeping Your Pet Safe in Cold Weather

The coldest month of the year in Brownsburg is January, with an average low of 22°F and high of 36°F. 

To help you keep your pet safe when the temperatures drop, we’re linking to six of the best web pages we’ve found on the topic of cold weather safety for pets. We encourage you to visit the pages most relevant to your pet’s needs.

See “Cold Weather Safety Tips” from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) for a range of suggestions, including several on coat, skin and paw care.

Cold Weather Animal Safety” from the American Veterinary Medical Association has a number of thoughtful pointers to help cat and dog owners keep their pets safe in cold weather. This page has tips for keeping livestock safe, too.

The Humane Society of the United States lists “Five ways to protect pets in winter,” including advice on protecting horses and community cats.

There’s also an article on the Humane Society website, “How to care for outdoor cats in winter,” with more detailed advice on caring for neighborhood feral and stray cats in cold weather.

Here are “8 Ways to Keep Your Dog Warm” from the American Kennel Club.

From the Animal Humane Society website, “Keeping pets safe in cold weather” covers safety for indoor and outdoor pets, lists signs of hypothermia and advises against taking your pet with you when running errands in your car during cold weather.

Cold Weather Questions?

The Brownsburg Animal Clinic team has answers!

Call us at (317) 852-3323 to ask for advice on caring for your pet in cold weather and if needed, to schedule an appointment. If you’re not sure if you should bring your pet in, call anyway and we will help you decide.

Keeping Your Pet Safe in Cold Weather Read More »

Dog wearing Santa cap

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.

Pets as Christmas Gifts Read More »

Cat with Christmas gifts

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.

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.

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.

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

A November 2022 survey by online pet supplies retailer Chewy.com found that 94% of pet owners shop for holiday gifts for pets, 58% wrap the pets’ presents and 87% hang Christmas stockings for pets. Among the pet owners responding to the survey, 58% said they usually buy their pets two to three gifts, generally spending about $50.

Gift Ideas

Type “Christmas gifts for pets” into a search engine, and you’ll see dozens of sponsored links to shopping sites, along with multiple rows of images advertising individual products.

We suggest the following articles to guide your gift-giving this holiday season.

What’s Under Your Tree?

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.

In return, you’ll receive the gifts of love and loyalty from your pet.

Happy holidays from the Brownsburg Animal Clinic family to yours!

Holiday Gifts for Pets Read More »

Painting showing the first Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Safety for Pets

Brownsburg Animal Clinic will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Friday and Saturday, November 23, 24 and 25. Normal office hours will resume Monday, November 27.

If this painting depicting the first Thanksgiving in 1621 is to be believed, a dog was happily—and apparently safely—celebrating alongside the guests at the feast.

But Thanksgiving as we celebrate it today can be very dangerous for pets.

Here’s a quick summary of Thanksgiving safety guidelines from North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

In less than four minutes, the following video posted on the American Animal Hospital Association’s YouTube channel, “Keeping your pets safe on Thanksgiving,” covers a number of hazards we haven’t seen cited by other sources.

Food Safety Specifics

Our traditional Thanksgiving feasts contain a few foods that can be safely eaten in small portions as treats by most pets, but many more holiday foods can cause serious, potentially deadly health problems. 

Pets access these delicious but dangerous foods not only from countertops, table tops and trash cans, but directly from the hands of indulgent, well-meaning people who want to include pets in the family festivities. 

It’s up to you to recognize and protect your pet from these food hazards.

Turkey. A few bites of unseasoned cooked white meat may do your pet no harm, but turkey skin and fatty dark meat can cause life-threatening pancreatitis.

Raw or undercooked turkey can cause salmonella poisoning, so make sure you keep thawing turkey out of your pet’s reach.

Turkey bones can damage or become lodged in your pet’s digestive tract, possibly requiring emergency surgery. Under no circumstances should you give your pet turkey bones! 

Discarded turkey packaging and trussing strings can also be extremely dangerous when swallowed.

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, turkey brine is hazardous to pets. “When you remove the turkey, this salt-saturated solution can be very attractive to dogs and cats, who will readily lap it up resulting in salt toxicosis. Clinical signs are excessive thirst and urination, vomiting and diarrhea. This can potentially result in serious electrolyte changes and brain swelling.”

Garlic, onion, leeks and chives. These common ingredients we humans enjoy to spice up our holiday dishes are toxic to dogs and cats. Don’t give your pet even a single bite of any dish—like green beans, potatoes, stuffing or gravy—containing these poisonous-to-pets ingredients. 

Yeast bread dough. Raw yeast bread dough, when eaten by a pet, can expand internally, blocking the pet’s digestive tract. As fermentation continues, ingested yeast dough can convert sugars into carbon dioxide gas and alcohol, resulting in a bloated, drunken pet who may require life-saving emergency treatment and hospitalization. Keep your rising yeast bread dough out of your pets’ reach. 

Desserts. Pies, fruitcakes, candies and cookies—particularly those containing chocolate, raisins, currants, nuts and the sugar substitute xylitol—should be kept out of your pet’s reach. 

See our post, “Protect Your Dog from Xylitol Poisoning” for more information about this widely-used household hazard.

Alcohol. If your holiday celebrations include alcohol, do not offer alcohol directly to your pet or allow access to unattended drinks containing alcohol.

According to Pet Poison Helpline, “Alcohol must be kept out of the reach of dogs because it can cause severe poisoning. Poisoning may cause symptoms such as seizures or breathing difficulties that need hospitalization and supportive care. Dogs can be poisoned by alcoholic drinks, but did you know they can be poisoned by yeast, too? If a dog eats rising bread dough, they can experience poisoning from the alcohol from the fermenting yeast. Alcohol rapidly absorbs into the bloodstream which results in alcohol poisoning.”

There is nothing cute or funny about a pet under the influence of alcohol, but there is the very real potential for serious health problems.

The Holiday Hazards of Guests

If you’re hosting a holiday gathering, your pet will be exposed to all the noise, confusion and opportunities to bolt out the door that come with receiving and entertaining guests. 

Especially shy or protective pets unused to having company may even growl, snap at or bite guests.

Well-meaning friends and family members may be tempted to feed your pet potentially harmful treats. 

Those not used to keeping doors and gates closed and foods and trash out of pets’ reach may inadvertently endanger your pet.

Overnight visitors may have easily-accessible-to-your-pet prescription and over-the-counter drugs or candies containing chocolate and/or sweetened with xylitol in their handbags and luggage. Keep bags off the floor and guest room doors closed.

To avoid holiday trips to the veterinary emergency hospital, make sure your guests understand basic security precautions to protect your pets. If the holiday festivities are to last only a few hours, you may prefer to protect your pet by restricting him or her to a quiet part of the house or to a crate until the party concludes.

Brigid Wasson from First Street Pets created “Keeping pets safe over Thanksgiving Holiday,” a 7-minute video focusing primarily on holiday safety hazards unrelated to food.

Travel Safety

If you are traveling to celebrate the holidays with your family or friends, you may choose to take your pet with you. See our post, “Safe Travels With Your Pet,” for links to travel-related resources.

If you read the safe travels post to the end, you’ll see our parting advice is to consider leaving your pet at home. Travel can be stressful for pets—especially when the destination is a large gathering of unfamiliar (to the pet) people in an unfamiliar (to the pet) place. 

Your pet may well be happier at home with a pet sitter or in the relatively stable confines of a boarding kennel. Just be sure your pet is up-to-date on all vaccines, and make your reservations well in advance of the busy holiday season.

Helpful Holiday Contacts

We will be closed from Thanksgiving Day through the following Sunday so that our veterinarians and staff can enjoy the holiday with their own families and friends. 

Should you need veterinary care while we are closed for the holiday, see the list of area emergency clinics in the right sidebar of every page on our website.

In case of poisoning, contact the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.

Thanksgiving Safety for Pets Read More »

Pug dog with two other dogs in the background

National Diabetes Month

November is National Diabetes Month.

While originally designated to raise awareness of diabetes in humans, November is the month when we at Brownsburg Animal Clinic join many of our veterinary colleagues in focusing special attention on diabetes mellitus in dogs and cats.

Signs Your Pet May Have Diabetes

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive and/or inappropriate urination
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Cloudy eye lenses (in dogs)
  • Depression or fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Poor skin condition, dandruff or oily coat

If your pet shows any of these signs, schedule an appointment at the clinic right away.

To Find Out More About Diabetes in Dogs and Cats

AVMA graphic listing signs of diabetes in pets

On its website page, “Diabetes in Pets,” the American Veterinary Medical Association provides an excellent summary of diabetes basics for pet owners.

On the PetMD website, you’ll find a comprehensive overview titled, “Diabetes in Dogs and Cats: Everything You Need to Know.”

Visit the “Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs and Cats” page on our own website and follow the links to our post and handout on how we handle blood sugar monitoring.

We’re Here to Help

If you suspect your dog or cat may have diabetes, the next step is to schedule an appointment for an examination. If your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, your veterinarian will explain how we can work with you to treat and manage the condition.

If left untreated, diabetes can be deadly. But with proper diagnosis, treatment and ongoing management, your diabetic pet can enjoy a healthy, happy life.

National Diabetes Month Read More »

Cat and dog relaxing together on the floor

Pet Wellness: A Year-Round Priority

October has traditionally been designated National Pet Wellness Month, but at Brownsburg Animal Clinic, wellness is a year-round priority. 

Many of our clients think their pets’ wellness begins and ends with the recommended yearly (or twice-yearly for older pets) exam and the vaccines that may come with it. 

But there is so much more to pet wellness than wellness exams! 

In fact, your pet’s wellness depends not only on regular, capable veterinary care, but on the care you provide between clinic appointments, every day, at home. 

Preventive Care

As part of our Pet Care Costs collection of posts and pages to help you manage the costs of pet ownership more effectively, we published “Preventive Care for Better Health and Lower Costs.” In that blog post, we talked about how preventive care—another name for wellness care—can benefit not only your pet’s health but your budget, too. 

The topics we covered:

  • Wellness Exams
  • Vaccinations
  • Deworming
  • Heartworm and Flea and Tick Preventives
  • Spaying and Neutering
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Dental Care

We encourage you to review the post on preventive care for an overview of the basic, year-round responsibilities of keeping your pet well.

Overweight and Obesity

Just weeks ago, we dedicated an entire blog post to the very serious problem of overweight and obesity in pets.

Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more pets whose wellness is jeopardized by excess weight. In fact, these days more than half of pet dogs and cats are overweight. 

We are also seeing many owners who deny their pet’s weight problem and may even get angry with us for bringing it up.

We understand! Nobody wants to hear, “Your dog really needs to lose some weight,” or “Your cat is dangerously obese.” It’s only natural to feel at least a little embarrassed, defensive and insulted when one of our veterinarians says something like that to you.

Just keep in mind—our first priority is your pet’s health, and we would be negligent if we didn’t call out overweight and obesity for the serious health problems they are. 

If we see it, we have to say it. 

Rather than wait for us to evaluate your pet’s body condition, you can judge for yourself if your pet is overweight or obese using resources linked to in our blog post

Once we mutually recognize, acknowledge and evaluate the problem, we can make a plan and work together to help your pet achieve a healthier weight. 

Safety Concerns

We often publish posts on our blog about pet safety, too. 

Keeping your pet safe from potential hazards is another critically important aspect of wellness that needs attending year-round. 

We hope you’ll browse the “Safety” category on our blog to gain an even broader perspective on how your taking safety precautions can contribute to your pet’s year-round wellness. 

We’re in This Together!

Your pet’s wellness is a year-round concern the veterinarians and staff of Brownsburg Animal Clinic take very seriously! 

We see our patients’ wellness as a collaborative effort between our team and our clients. 

With you, we’re in your pet’s wellness together, and we feel honored you’ve chosen us to work with you to provide your pet with the healthiest, happiest possible life.

What’s next? Call us now at (317) 852-3323 to see when your pet’s next wellness exam is due.

Pet Wellness: A Year-Round Priority Read More »

Chihuahua dressed as a witch for Halloween

Halloween Safety for Pets

Halloween can be fun for humans, but to your pet, it can be a scary, dangerous experience.

Noisy bands of masked strangers at your door, bowls and bags filled with tempting candy, unfamiliar decorations to explore and costumes for the entire family can put your pet at risk of being lost, stressed, ill or injured.

Here are some precautions we recommend to safeguard your pet this Halloween.

Don’t Share the Treats

Make sure your children and all the adults in your household know not to share Halloween treats with your pets. Keep the candy you are giving out and the candy your children collect securely out of your pet’s reach.

Just about any sugary or fatty candy, cakes and cookies can cause your pet to experience vomiting and diarrhea, but the theobromine and caffeine in chocolate are especially dangerous and can overstimulate a dog’s nervous system to life-threatening levels.

Treats sweetened with xylitol can quickly lower a dog’s blood sugar level and can lead to liver failure.

“Healthy” treats containing raisins, grapes or macadamia nuts can be toxic—even fatal—to pets. For example, as few as 5 to 20 raisins can cause kidney failure in a small dog.

Depending on your pet’s size and the amount your pet eats, indulging in Halloween treats can cause pancreatitis or hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, triggering vomiting and diarrhea that can lead to severe dehydration. Both conditions require prompt veterinary care and possible hospitalization.

A pet who discovers a bag filled with treats may well eat wrappers and sticks along with the candy. These materials can get stuck in your pet’s stomach and block or possibly rupture the intestines. Surgery will most likely be required.

And if your pet indulges in an assortment of candy collected throughout the neighborhood, you will have no way of knowing just what potential toxins your pet may have ingested.

Keep Decorations Out of Reach

Strings of lights can cause electrical shocks and swallowed glass and plastic shards.

Candles can cause burns and, if tipped over, can start a fire.

Moldy pumpkins can cause tremors in dogs if they snack on jack-o-lanterns.

Cobweb decorations are especially tempting to cats and kittens, with potentially serious results if the fake web gets wrapped around the tongue. If pets swallow the stringy cobweb material, it may require surgery to remove the blockage.

Mind the Costumes

If you plan to dress your pet in its own Halloween costume, make sure the costume you choose is one your pet can and will tolerate comfortably.

The costume should not block your pet’s sight, hearing, breathing or movement. There should be no rubber bands, tight strings or straps to cut off circulation or breathing. Wide Velcro fasteners are preferable.

A costume can become a choking hazard if the pet chews off and swallows pieces or becomes entangled in the fabric while trying to wriggle out of it. Swallowed costume pieces can cause a blockage that requires surgery to remove.

Supervise your costumed pet at all times. If you need to leave your pet unattended—even for only a few minutes—remove the costume first.

If you and your family are wearing costumes, you may frighten your pet. Make sure you introduce yourselves in costume to your pet in a reassuring, non-threatening way.

Recognize the Dangers of Trick or Treating

For most dogs, trick-or-treating from door-to-door with your family—especially in a busy neighborhood with other trick-or-treaters filling the streets—can be a stressful experience.

Even the calmest, friendliest dog is likely to get spooked by all the strange-looking people, noise and confusion. Some dogs may even try to protect you from costumed, masked people who seem to present a threat.

As a kindness to your pet, we recommend you remove the cute costume and leave him or her at home.

If you stay home to dispense treats, your pet may be startled and stressed by all the doorbell-ringing and shouting for hours on end and may dash out the open door, risking being lost or hit by a car. If weather permits, you may minimize the disruption by greeting trick-or-treaters outdoors on the front porch.

Bring outdoor pets—especially black cats—inside on Halloween to safeguard them from being stolen and possibly abused by cruel pranksters.

All pets will tolerate Halloween best if crated and kept in a quiet room with the door closed.

Just in case your frightened pet does escape through an open door, make sure he or she has proper identification—a microchip and a collar with identification tags—to help get back home.

Halloween Safety for Pets Read More »

Kitten and puppy

Essential Vaccines to Protect Your Pet

Each August, the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) sponsors National Immunization Awareness Month and, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), works to deliver four key messages:

  • Vaccines protect against serious diseases.
  • These diseases still exist and outbreaks do occur.
  • Vaccines are recommended throughout our lives.
  • Vaccines are very safe.

These four points apply to pets as well as people. We join our veterinary colleagues to support this month-long human health care campaign to raise awareness among our clients of the many benefits of immunization for pets.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) notes, “Experts agree that widespread use of vaccines within the last century has prevented death and disease in millions of animals.” 

The AVMA offers these five reasons to vaccinate your pet:

  • Vaccinations prevent many pet illnesses.
  • Vaccinations can help avoid costly treatments for diseases that can be prevented.
  • Vaccinations prevent diseases that can be passed between animals and also from animals to people.
  • Diseases prevalent in wildlife, such as rabies and distemper, can infect unvaccinated pets.
  • In many areas, local or state ordinances require certain vaccinations of household pets.

That’s why we join the NPHIC, the CDC and the AVMA in strongly recommending vaccinating all pets in our care—including yours!

The Best Preventive Care You Can Provide

Vaccinations are essential to protecting your pet from contracting and spreading a number of dangerous, potentially deadly diseases. 

One disease in particular—rabies—is so dangerous and deadly to animals and people that Indiana law requires all dogs and cats to be vaccinated against rabies.

We require animals brought to our clinic to have current rabies vaccinations. If they are overdue for their rabies shots or we have no record of a current rabies vaccine on file, if their health permits, we will administer the vaccine during the visit.

Core Vaccines and More

Vaccines contain some or all inactivated proteins that cause a particular infectious disease. Following the vaccination, your pet’s immune system recognizes and creates antibodies to defend against any actual disease-causing pathogens. If exposed, a vaccinated pet may experience only a relatively mild illness or may not get sick at all.

There are several core vaccines all cats should receive: rabies, feline panleukopenia, feline viral rhinotracheitis and feline calicivirus infection.

Core vaccines for dogs include rabies, distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus, hepatitis and parainfluenza.

Beyond the core vaccines, we customize our recommendations for each pet by asking about the pet’s environment and habits and adding other vaccines as needed based on the pet’s estimated risk of contracting various diseases. 

For example, if your dog spends time in boarding and grooming facilities, we will most likely suggest vaccinating against Bordetella or kennel cough.

We highly recommend the leptospirosis vaccine for nearly all dogs in our part of the country, as this serious disease can be passed along from pets to humans and can be deadly to dogs. See our post about leptospirosis in which we discuss the benefits and risks of this potentially life-saving vaccine.

While the Feline Leukemia vaccine is not considered a core vaccine for adult cats who live indoors, we highly recommend it for cats that spend time outdoors. 

If your dog spends lots of time outdoors in the woods, we will likely recommend vaccinating against Lyme disease. (For more information, see our post, “Lyme Disease, Your Pet and You.”)

Travel outside the Brownsburg area or likely contact with other pets or wildlife are factors that determine what additional vaccines your veterinarian may recommend. If we are aware of regional or seasonal disease outbreaks, we will also discuss available vaccines to protect your pet from those risks. 

For puppies and kittens, we give most initial vaccinations in a series of shots between six and eight weeks of age. We give booster shots to dogs and cats at one year of age, with boosters after that every one to three years, depending on the vaccine.

To be most effective, vaccinations should be given by qualified professionals. Despite what you may see on the internet, immunization is not a job for the do-it-yourselfer. 

Staying on the vaccination schedule your veterinarian recommends is important, too. Failing to complete your puppy or kitten’s initial vaccination series or delaying or skipping booster shots puts your pet at greater risk of contracting a serious, potentially deadly disease. 

Make sure there are no gaps in your pet’s protection by completing your pet’s initial vaccination series as scheduled and staying on schedule for boosters. 

But Do Vaccines Really Work?

No vaccine is 100% effective, but it’s rare for an animal that has received an appropriately administered vaccine to contract the disease the vaccine is designed to protect against.

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, vaccines can fail for these reasons:

  • Failure of the vaccinated patient to mount an adequate immune response.
  • Exposure to the infection before being fully vaccinated.
  • Interference of maternal antibodies.
  • Improper storage or handling of the vaccine, including inappropriate administration.
  • Waning immunity (e.g., immunosenescence, or age-related deterioration of the immune system).
  • Vaccine manufacturing errors, such as lack of potency due to instability, expiration, or improper storage.

While some of these patient-specific factors are beyond our control at the clinic, we can promise you we stock only current, high-quality, properly-stored vaccines, and our staff members are well-trained on how to handle and administer them. 

Yes, There Can Be Side-Effects

As with any medical treatment, regardless of its demonstrated safety record, individual patients may experience side-effects with vaccines. Fortunately, serious adverse reactions to vaccinations are rare. 

The most common adverse effects of vaccinations include mild, short-term pain and swelling or soreness at or near the injection site.

Contact us if your pet has these post-vaccination side effects lasting more than a day or two:

  • Discomfort and swelling at the vaccination site
  • Mild fever
  • Decreased appetite and activity

Sneezing, mild coughing, nasal discharge and other respiratory signs may appear two to five days after your pet receives an intranasal vaccine. Call us if your pet experiences these symptoms.

A small, firm swelling may develop under the skin at the vaccination site. It should begin to disappear within two weeks, but if it lasts more than three weeks or seems to be getting larger, call us to schedule an appointment.

According to the AVMA, “An uncommon but serious adverse reaction that can occur in cats is tumor growth (sarcomas), which can develop weeks, months, or even years after a vaccination. Improvements in vaccination technology and technique have greatly reduced the occurrence of sarcomas.”

Less common, but more serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, can be life-threatening and should be treated as medical emergencies. If, after being vaccinated, your pet shows any of these signs, listed by the AVMA, get emergency veterinary care immediately:

  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Itchy skin that may seem bumpy (“hives”) 
  • Swelling of the muzzle and around the face, neck, or eyes
  • Severe coughing or difficulty breathing
  • Collapse

Remember, the vast majority of pets experience no adverse side effects at all, and unless your pet has a medical condition that makes vaccination especially risky, the many benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks. 

We Welcome Your Questions

We are aware beyond our clinic, there are many outspoken critics of vaccines, eager to warn you of the perceived dangers of vaccinating your pet. 

From within the mainstream of science-backed veterinary medicine, the veterinarians at Brownsburg Animal Clinic assure you the benefits of the professionally supplied, handled and administered vaccines we recommend for your pet far outweigh the risks of the potentially deadly diseases they target. 

Knowing what we know, based on our many years of veterinary medical education and experience with vaccinating thousands of pets, we all choose to immunize our own pets using the vaccines appropriate to each pet’s individual situation and risks of exposure to the various diseases.

If you have read or heard allegations warning of the dangers of immunization, our veterinarians are happy to address your concerns with science-based facts. Just ask!

Essential Vaccines to Protect Your Pet Read More »

Close up of person's eye and cat's eye, side by side

Is Owning a Cat Good for Your Health?

Those of us who own and love cats don’t need researchers to affirm the value of our cherished pets in our lives. Still, it’s gratifying to find so many science-backed videos and articles to confirm what we already know about the many benefits of cat ownership.

Among the most amusing research-based videos is “Prescription Cat” from the Human Animal Bond Research Institute’s Pet Effect campaign

According to HABRI, “Scientific research demonstrates that cat ownership can confer benefits to both mental and physical health in their owners. Specifically, cat ownership can reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and improve heart health, alleviate social isolation and loneliness, and reduce stress. In children, living with cats can strengthen immunity in the first year of life, and a pet cat can help those with autism and their families.”

“The Scientific Benefits of Owning a Cat: 5 Reasons to Welcome a Feline Friend” from the Pet in the Net YouTube channel includes links to research studies supporting each of the benefits.

From the YouTube channel AnimalWised, “5 Benefits of Having a Cat for Health and Happiness” also cites research to back each of the benefits discussed.

In “10 Scientific Benefits of Being a Cat Owner,” published by Mental Floss, those benefits include:

  1. Owning a cat is better for the environment than owning a dog.
  2. They’ll help you cope with loss and pain.
  3. They may help you find a significant other.
  4. Cat owners are smart.
  5. You’ll have a healthier heart.
  6. Cats fulfill your need for companionship.
  7. Cats can tell you (and others) a lot about your personality.
  8. You’ll sleep better.
  9. Cat ownership could mean fewer allergies.
  10. Cats can quite literally save your life.

The All Cats YouTube channel has compiled this same information in a video, “10 Scientific Benefits Of Being A Cat Owner,” covering all 10 benefits in less than 9 minutes.

“The Psychological Benefits Of Owning A Cat” on the Animal Discovery YouTube channel focuses on mental health benefits of cat ownership.

In “Americans Note Overwhelming Positive Mental Health Impact of Their Pets in New Poll; Dogs and Cats Equally Beneficial,” the American Psychiatric Association reported owners of both dogs and cats said their pets offer many mental health benefits. 

In response to the APA’s March 2023 Healthy Minds Monthly Poll of 2,200 adults, 86% of pet owners said “their pets have a mostly positive impact on their mental health.” Among the benefits those pet owners cited:

  • 69% said their pets help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • 69% said their pets provide unconditional love and support.
  • 69% said their pets offer companionship.
  • 66% said their pets providing a calming presence.
  • 63% said their pets are true friends.

According to the APA, “Cat owners were more likely than dog owners to say their pets offer companionship, provide a calming presence and help reduce stress and anxiety. Dog owners were twice as likely as cat owners to say their pet encourages them to be physically active.”

For more details of the March 2023 Healthy Minds Monthly Poll, see the survey report on the American Psychiatric Association website.

For a more personalized testimonial to the demonstrated benefits of cat ownership, see Kira M. Newman’s article, “The Science-Backed Benefits of Being a Cat Lover,” published by The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Newman covers cats’ contributions to general well-being, stress reduction, relationship skills and physical health in some detail. 

How We Can Help

At Brownsburg Animal Clinic, we support the bond between you and your cat by providing the veterinary care needed to maintain your cat’s longest, healthiest life. Through regular check-ups, recommended vaccines and prompt attention to symptoms of ill health, our goal is to help you enjoy the many benefits of cat ownership for as long as possible.

Is Owning a Cat Good for Your Health? Read More »

Kitten with feather toy

Celebrate Adopt-A-Cat Month

Every June, American Humane observes Adopt-A-Cat Month®, timed to coincide with peak “kitten season.” Many of those kittens end up in shelters where they join adult cats waiting to be adopted.

Where to Find an Adoptable Cat

We recommend the Hendricks County Animal Shelter and Misty Eyes Animal Center as excellent sources of healthy, adoptable cats and kittens. 

The Hendricks County Animal Shelter is in Danville at 250 East Campus Boulevard. The phone number is (317) 745-9250.

For much more information about the county shelter, see our post, “‘A County Shelter We Can Be Proud Of.’”

To see a sampling of cats (and dogs) available for adoption, visit the shelter’s Facebook page.

Misty Eyes Animal Center is at 616 Country Road 800 in Avon. The phone number is (317) 858-8022.

Misty Eyes is currently putting the finishing touches on Kitty City, a spacious new building that can house as many as 400 cats.

Selected pets available for adoption now at Misty Eyes are posted on their website.

Both organizations are open to the public during visiting hours, allowing you to meet and greet adoptable animals in person. 

For First-Time Cat Owners

American Humane has an excellent 10-point “Cat Adoption Checklist” we strongly recommend—especially to first-time cat owners. 

To Introduce a New Cat to Other Cats in the Household 

If you already have one or more cats at home, we encourage you to read American Humane’s “Introducing Cats to Cats.”  

The article offers detailed step-by-step instructions for selecting and bringing a new cat or kitten into your current cat’s home. 

To Introduce a New Cat to Dogs in the Household

Required reading for dog owners planning to introduce a new cat or kitten to the household is American Humane’s “Introducing Dogs to Cats.” This detailed article offers sound advice on matching cats and dogs, step-by-step instructions to facilitate the introduction process and warning signs that the proposed relationship may not work out after all. 

Other Ways You Can Celebrate

Even if you’re not prepared to adopt a cat right now, you can celebrate Adopt-A-Cat Month® by donating food and supplies to the Hendricks County Animal Shelter or Misty Eyes Animal Center. It’s best to call first to find out what’s needed most. 

Both organizations depend on volunteers, so if you’re an animal lover looking to make a difference in the lives of pets waiting for their permanent homes, call to ask about volunteer opportunities.

Celebrate Adopt-A-Cat Month Read More »

Hands holding stethoscope against small puppy

Preventive Care for Better Health and Lower Costs

If you’re like most pet owners, you’re at least somewhat concerned about the costs of pet ownership. An all-too-common money-saving strategy is to postpone or skip preventive care. 

But attempting to lower costs by delaying or cutting back on preventive care—wellness exams, vaccinations, deworming, heartworm and flea and tick preventives—risks not only your pet’s health but also your budget. 

In fact, your regular, ongoing investment in timely preventive veterinary care for your pet is likely to save you money in the long run while helping your pet enjoy a healthier, happier life. 

At home, between visits to the clinic, your ongoing management of your pet’s nutrition, exercise and dental care can further improve quality and length of life while actually reducing the total cost of care over your pet’s lifetime.

Wellness Exams

One survey found that more than half of cat owners and nearly a fourth of dog owners had not visited the veterinarian in the past year. Yet, for adult dogs and cats, nearly all small animal practitioners—including us—recommend an annual wellness exam, with more frequent check-ups for older pets or those with chronic medical conditions. 

These regularly-scheduled exams allow us to detect health problems early when treatment is likely to be easier and less expensive, with the best chances of success. 

Vaccinations

One of the wisest investments you can make in preventive veterinary care is in vaccines to prevent such deadly illnesses as distemper, hepatitis, rabies and Lyme disease. The potential costs of treating any of these conditions far outweigh the cost of the vaccines and, in some cases, protect your family from disease as well. 

Your veterinarian will advise you on the core vaccines recommended for all dogs and cats as well as any additional vaccines worth considering based on your pet’s potential exposure to other, less common diseases. 

Deworming

Dogs and cats can pick up and play host to worms found in their environment—tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms and others. Some of these worms can be transmitted to humans.

To avoid the potentially serious and costly health problems that come with worm infestations, we recommend regular testing and deworming as part of ongoing wellness care. 

Heartworm and Flea and Tick Preventives 

One worm in particular—the heartworm—is so debilitating and potentially deadly that it merits annual testing and year-round preventive care. 

See our post, “Protecting Your Pet From Heartworms,” for information about the dangers of heartworms and the preventives you can use to protect your pet.

For detailed information about fleas and ticks, see the ASPCA’s “Fleas and Ticks” page.  

The ASPCA article includes tips for treating your house and yard for a flea infestation, but we recommend a proactive approach to flea control, using preventives to stop a full-blown infestation before it starts. See also the article’s directions for removing a tick from your pet. 

Our veterinarians recommend preventives as a cost-effective way to control both fleas and ticks as well as heartworms year-round.

Spaying and Neutering

Besides preventing unwanted pregnancies, spaying and neutering reduce the risk of mammary tumors and prostate disease and can make your pet calmer and less likely to roam. 

For details on the ideal ages for spaying and neutering your pet, see our post, “When to Spay or Neuter? It’s Complicated.”

Nutrition

The most common nutrition problem we see is overfeeding. The resulting overweight and obesity are associated with arthritis, high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes. These chronic health problems can be debilitating for your pet and costly to treat.

Consistently feeding your pet the right amount of food (and treats) to maintain a healthy weight not only saves you money on the food itself, but on the treatment your pet would otherwise need to address any of the related health concerns that could develop from overfeeding. 

We also see food-related health issues—especially allergies and intestinal problems—in pets fed low-quality “economy” pet food brands. By upgrading to a higher-quality food, you may well see your pet’s chronic skin and digestive problems resolve over time as a result of improved nutrition. The investment in better food is more than offset over time by the reduced need for medical care. 

Your veterinarian can help you choose an affordable, nutritious pet food and recommend the amount to feed to achieve and maintain your pet’s ideal weight. 

Exercise

Like people, pets benefit from regular, age-appropriate exercise. Walking and playing fetch with your dog benefit you as well as your pet.

See Everyday Health’s “10 Cat Exercises Your Pet Will Enjoy” for ideas on planning an exercise routine for your cat.

Dental Care

Keeping up with your pet’s professional and home dental care can ultimately save you money long-term by reducing the risks of oral and systemic infections and organ damage. 

While only 10% of owners say they brush their pets’ teeth every day, those pets receiving regular home dental care need professional cleanings less often and tend to have fewer problems with their gums and teeth. 

For more information about dental health care for you pet, see our blog posts, “Time to Focus on Your Pet’s Dental Health,” and “Dental Health Care.”

Let Us Customize Your Pet’s Preventive Care Plan

Our veterinarians are happy to recommend a preventive care plan tailored specifically for your pet based on age, breed, general health and lifestyle. Let’s discuss your pet’s plan at your next appointment.

Preventive Care for Better Health and Lower Costs Read More »

Blue-eyed cat

Most and Least Expensive Cat Breeds

As we did in our previous post on “Most and Least Expensive Dog Breeds,” we’re discussing in this post estimated purchase prices and projected health care cost estimates for various cat breeds. 

The estimates we found for the costs of acquiring and caring for various cat breeds are wide-ranging and frankly, may or may not be reliable. As you’ll see, the same estimated purchase prices for several breeds were considered both “expensive” and “affordable,” depending on the article. We’ve included links back to the source articles we found so you can review them for yourself. 

In considering potential health care costs over the lifetime of your cat, remember, generalities about specific breeds are just that—generalities. Your own purebred cat may or may not experience any of the common health issues associated with its breed.

With this post, we mean simply to get you thinking about potential costs associated with buying and caring for various cat breeds. We encourage you to do further research before purchasing a purebred cat of your own so you’ll have a better-informed idea of the potential risks and rewards unique to each breed.

The Most Expensive Cat Breeds to Buy

We found three estimated purchase price lists—one listing the “most expensive” cat breeds, and the other two listing the “most affordable” breeds. 

The list of the priciest cat breeds starts with the Ashera—a breed currently recognized by neither The Cat Fanciers Association, nor The International Cat Association. These cats reportedly sell for $75,000 to $125,000. 

Another cat on the “most expensive” list, the Savannah, reportedly costs $25,000. The rest of the “expensive” breeds are priced at anywhere from an estimated $400 to $5,000. 

Interestingly, on the two lists we found of the “most affordable” cat breeds, several breeds estimated to cost as much $1,000 to $1,500 are included. Clearly, there are no standard definitions of “expensive” and “affordable” when it comes to buying cats.

A 2019 Yahoo.com article, “The Most and Least Expensive Cat Breeds in the World,” quotes what it calls “sometimes staggeringly high prices” for 15 cat breeds. Here are the acquisition cost estimates the article listed for the world’s most expensive breeds:

  • Ashera $75,000 to $125,000
  • Peterbald $1,700 to $3,000
  • Savannah $25,000
  • Bengal $2,000 to $5,000
  • Persian $3,000
  • Sphynx $900 to $1,200
  • California Spangled $800 to $3,000
  • Maine Coon $1,000 to $3,500
  • Egyptian Mau $500 to $800
  • Russian Blue $400 to $3,000
  • British Shorthair $800 to $1,000
  • American Curl $800 to $1,200
  • Korat $600 to $800
  • Ocicat $800
  • Scottish Fold $800 to $1,500

Visit the Yahoo article for commentary on each breed.

In the same article, Yahoo.com included a list of these 15 least expensive breeds: 

  • Oriental Shorthair $400 to $500
  • Turkish Van $200 to $600
  • Manx $200 to $500
  • Havana Brown $300 to $500
  • Himalayan $300 to $500
  • Ragdoll $400 to $1,100
  • Munchkin $300 to $500
  • Snowshoe $200 to $1,000
  • Cornish Rex $700 to $800
  • Siamese $200 to $600
  • Burmese $550 to $1,000
  • Birman $400 to $700
  • American Bobtail $500 to $700
  • Tonkinese $600 to $1,200
  • Abyssinian $500 to $700

As you see, within this article, there’s some overlap of purchase prices considered expensive and those considered affordable.

PetKeen.com published an article, “11 Most Affordable Cat Breeds (with Pictures)” listing these affordable breeds and their estimated purchase prices:

  • Turkish Van $200
  • Ragdoll $400
  • Siamese $200
  • Burmese $500 to $1,000
  • Manx $500 to $800
  • Himalayan $300
  • Cornish Rex $100
  • Oriental Shorthair $400 to $500
  • Havana Brown $300 to $1,500
  • Snowshoe $200 to $250
  • Domestic Shorthair <$50

See the article—with pictures—for estimated lifespan, temperament, colors and commentary on each of the 11 listed breeds.

Note the overlap of affordable breeds named on the Yahoo list with the above list from PetKeen as well as the substantial ranges in purchase price estimates for some of the breeds. To determine actual purchase prices for the breed you’re interested in buying, contact individual breeders.

As a cost-saving alternative to buying a purebred cat from a breeder, consider looking for an adoptable cat at the Hendricks County Animal Shelter or Misty Eyes Animal Center. Purebreds are available from time to time at both facilities.

The Specialty Purebred Cat Rescue organization is a foster-based program with foster homes in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Michigan. Visit the website to see cats currently available for adoption.

What Makes a Cat Breed Expensive to Care For?

Any cat can inherit a genetic disorder, but pedigreed cats tend to be at higher risk than mixed-breed cats for certain known heritable health problems because purebreds are selectively bred from limited gene pools.

In a blog post identifying the seven cat breeds most prone to hereditary diseases, Pawlicy Advisor, a pet insurance marketing company, posted “Which Cat Breeds NEED Pet Insurance?” listing these breeds:

  • Siamese
  • Persian
  • Ragdoll
  • Bengal
  • Sphynx
  • Exotic Shorthair
  • Scottish Fold

Following the list is detailed health information, including the most common known hereditary conditions, for each breed.

From a VetHelpDirect.com article, “Do cats get genetic diseases?” a list of common genetic diseases associated with specific cat breeds includes:

  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Spina Bifida
  • Osteochondrodysplasia
  • Deafness
  • Hypokalemic Myopathy
  • Diabetes
  • Lymphoma and Small Intestinal Adenocarcinoma
  • Feline lower urinary tract disease
  • Asthma
  • Strabismus
  • Spinal muscular atrophy

See the article for details on these diseases and the breeds most likely to inherit them. 

Keep in mind, while the breed predispositions for certain heritable diseases may be stronger than average for some breeds, all Burmese and Norwegian Forest Cats do not necessarily develop diabetes. All Siamese cats do not develop lymphoma and small intestinal adenocarcinoma, nor are they all asthmatic. And mixed-breed cats can develop these disorders, too. 

Insurance Claims Rankings By Breed

An indicator of breed-specific health care costs is pet health insurance claims data. 

For an article published on PetCareRx.com, pet health insurer Trupanion provided information on the five cat breeds with the highest total lifetime average claims submitted:

  • Siamese $74,638
  • Bengal $73,408
  • Himalayan $69,449
  • Maine Coon $63,683
  • Ragdoll $40,442

See the article for details on common health problems experienced by each of these cat breeds, based on claims submitted. The information about cats starts about halfway through the article.  

Another list based on insurance claims data was published by Forbes Advisor as part of a more general article on pet health insurance. On that list, the ten breeds with the highest average pet insurance claim amounts included: 

  • Siberian Forest Cat $457
  • Bengal $404
  • Mixed Breed Medium-Haired Cat $403
  • Mixed Breed Long-Haired Cat $397
  • Ragdoll $381
  • Mixed Breed Short-Haired Cat $380
  • American Shorthair $376
  • Maine Coon $374
  • Russian Blue $369
  • Domestic Medium-Haired Cat $356

As the individual and lifetime claims averages show, several breeds—Bengal, Ragdoll and Maine Coon—made both lists. Note that four of the ten cat breeds listed as having the highest claims amounts are actually mixed breeds. 

Also bear in mind that claims amounts do not include deductibles and co-insurance—typically 20 to 30%—covered by the pet owner. 

Our Observations

  • As suggested in a previous post, the lifetime costs of buying and caring for any pet can easily amount to tens of thousands of dollars. Regardless of pedigree and initial purchase price, all cats need to be fed and cared for properly throughout their lives. Before you add any pet to your household, be prepared financially to provide these essentials.
  • Any cat will experience poor health if not fed and cared for properly. You can do your part to keep your cat’s lifetime total healthcare costs affordable by scheduling regular preventive exams, having us administer recommended vaccines and addressing any illnesses and injuries promptly.
  • While breed and breeder research is helpful before you buy, it’s impossible to predict the health outcomes for any individual cat you acquire.

For more information about cat breeds, visit the website for The Cat Fanciers Association, a breed registry founded in 1906. CFA currently recognizes 45 cat breeds as well as non-pedigreed companion cats that make up more than 95% of the cat population.

Another cat registry organization, The International Cat Association (TICA), currently recognizes 73 cat breeds for championship competition. Visit their site for photographs and details about the breeds they register.

Most and Least Expensive Cat Breeds Read More »

Three kittens looking out a door

Calling All Cat Lovers

Since being domesticated more than 9,500 years ago, cats have remained popular pets valued for their grace, beauty, independence and companionship. Currently, about 25% of American households are home to an average of 1.8 cats.

Cat Care Resources

Our team is dedicated to supporting all our feline patients in living long, healthy, happy lives. We’ve chosen the following links as some of the most informative and helpful sources of sound, reliable cat-care advice for our cat-loving clients.

Especially helpful for relative newcomers to cat ownership, the ASPCA’s General Cat Care guide provides a good overview of the basics of caring for a cat.

PetMD’s Complete Cat Health Guide for Every Life Stage offers cat-care advice organized by life stage—kittens from birth to 12 months old, adult cats from 1 to 8 years old, senior cats from 8 to 15 years of age and geriatric cats aged 15 to 20 years.

From the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association, here’s an overview of recommended preventive care for cats.

The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Feline Health Center conducts feline-related research and provides authoritative educational resources for cat owners and breeders and veterinary professionals.

How You Can Help Our Feline Friends

Unfortunately, cat overpopulation is a sadly serious issue. About 3.2 million cats are taken into shelters each year. Only about 100,000 are reunited with their owners. About 2.1 million cats are placed annually in adoptive homes. About 850,000 are euthanized.

If you have room in your home and heart to take in a feline companion, we encourage you to adopt a cat from Misty Eyes Animal Center or the Hendricks County Animal Shelter. If you’re not interesting in adopting, you can still support cats at either or both organizations by offering cash donations and volunteer help.

Calling All Cat Lovers Read More »

2022 Word Rabies Day logo

World Rabies Day

September 28 is World Rabies Day.

The day is celebrated annually by the World Health Organization to raise awareness about rabies prevention and to highlight progress in defeating this deadly disease.

This year’s theme, ‘Rabies: One Health, Zero Deaths,’ will highlight the connection of the environment with both people and animals.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an informative page about rabies on their website. We encourage all our clients to visit the page and learn more about how to protect themselves and their families from this deadly, but vaccine-preventable disease.

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.

Visit the Indiana state website for additional information about rabies.

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.

We require all patients visiting the clinic to have current rabies vaccinations. If you bring in a pet whose vaccine is overdue, we will administer the vaccine if the pet’s health permits. Read about our policy here.

World Rabies Day Read More »

Screen shot of WebMD's Fetch website home page

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.

WebMD for Pet Health Read More »

Hand holding a cutaway model of a dog's ear

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.

The Ears Have It Read More »

A blue-eyed reclining cat

Behavior Issues for Cats

We joke about “herding cats” as an impossibly difficult task, but behavior problems in pet cats can be serious and, fortunately, can be addressed.

A good overview of behavior issues in cats is on the ASPCA’s web site. Covered topics include—

Let Us Help

Call us for additional insights on how to address these and other behavior problems your cat may be having.

Behavior Issues for Cats Read More »

Assorted capsules and pills for humans

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.

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.

Medicines for Humans Can Be Dangerous for Pets Read More »

Fireworks display

Are You Ready for July 4?

With Independence Day fast approaching, are you prepared to protect your pet from the anxiety and injuries that can come with 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.

If you think your pet may be afraid of fireworks, see our recently updated post about how to diagnose and treat your pet’s noise anxiety.

Order Anti-Anxiety Refills Now

If your pet takes a prescription drug to manage anxiety, we encourage you to call in your refill request today to make sure we have the drug you need in stock and are able to dispense it well before the fireworks begin.

Fireworks Can Burn!

Lighted fireworks can cause severe burns and trauma to the face and paws of a curious pet. Keep your pet safely away from the area where fireworks are being ignited.

Fireworks Can Be Swallowed!

Unlit fireworks can be swallowed, obstructing your pet’s digestive tract and introducing potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals. Make sure any fireworks you’ve purchased for your celebration are stored safely out of reach of pets (and children).

Are You Ready?

We encourage you to protect your pet from fireworks this Independence Day! If you have questions or need our help in evaluating your pet for noise anxiety issues, learning about home remedies or discussing medical treatment, call now.

Are You Ready for July 4? Read More »

Timea H. Brady, DVM, and her dogs

Summer Safety Tips

June 21 marks the beginning of summer.

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 description of heat stress, including emergency measures you can take.

Summer Safety Tips Read More »

Dead mosquito

Heartworm Prevention is a Year-Round Commitment

One crisp winter day, 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.

Heartworm Prevention is a Year-Round Commitment Read More »

Six St. Bernards lying in the grass

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.

Emergency and Specialty Referrals Read More »

CPRLab

Dr. Brady Certified in CPR for Pets

Our clinic owner, Dr. Timea H. Brady, recently earned certification to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on dogs and cats.

Dr. Brady’s certification by the Reassessment Campaign on Veterinary Resuscitation (RECOVER) initiative required 8.5 continuing education hours of online coursework in basic and advanced life support followed by four hours of hands-on training using stuffed dog manikins in a live workshop setting. She completed the requirements on September 19 at Purdue University’s Fall Veterinary Conference, becoming one of approximately 1,000 “Certified RECOVER Rescuers” worldwide.

CPR Lab
Dr. Timea H. Brady (right), owner of Brownsburg Animal Clinic, uses a manual resuscitator on a CPR patient simulator in the September 19 RECOVER workshop at the Purdue Veterinary Conference while fellow Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine alumna Dr. Katharine Wentworth performs chest compressions. Purdue University photo / Kevin Doerr

“My staff wanted to learn more about CPR and how to do it, but I realized I had only very basic knowledge—certainly not enough to teach it,” said Dr. Brady. “When I saw Purdue was offering the course at their Fall Conference, I jumped at the chance to learn so I could improve my patients’ chances of survival as well as teach my entire team the evidence-based best practices.”

Dr. Brady set aside two full staff meetings for CPR training. The October 22 meeting focused on the basic and advanced life support coursework. In a follow-up training session on November 12, the staff will practice CPR techniques on a stuffed animal.

Using handouts, demonstrations and hands-on practice, the training covers how to recognize cardiopulmonary arrest, the CPR procedure itself and post-cardiac arrest care. Dr. Brady has ordered copies of the RECOVER guidelines and emergency drug dosage posters for permanent display in the clinic’s surgery and dental suites and treatment area.

“We’ll be practicing on a stuffed animal, but in the workshop at Purdue, we had dog-shaped CPR dummies called simulators that had an open mouth with teeth and a tongue so we could practice intubating them,” said Dr. Brady. “The simulators were also designed to give realistic resistance when we were doing the chest compressions. Our stuffed animal won’t have those features, but I think it will still be helpful in learning the techniques.”

In keeping with RECOVER recommendations, the clinic has ordered additional supplies for the emergency crash cart, fully stocking it with multiple sizes of endotracheal tubes and IV catheters, a manual resuscitator bag, fluids and emergency drugs such as epinephrine, atropine and naloxone.

“Our cart has just about everything paramedics for humans have on their trucks, but in more different sizes to suit the smallest to the largest pets,” said Dr. Brady. “Our staff training will cover what’s in the crash cart and where, so there will be no delays in accessing the tools and supplies we need during an emergency.”

About Veterinary CPR

Veterinary cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is called for when an animal’s breathing and heartbeat stop. The causes may include heart disease, metabolic diseases, low levels of oxygen in the blood, electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, adverse reactions to a drug, electrical shock or brain trauma.

The mortality rate is extremely high in veterinary cases of cardiopulmonary arrest (CPA). For animals experiencing CPA while hospitalized, only 1.6 to 6 percent of dogs and 2.3 to 9.6 percent of cats survive to be discharged from the hospital. In humans, approximately 24 percent of adults survive an in-hospital CPA.

CPR is the only treatment of cardiopulmonary arrest. In both animals and humans, the odds of survival after CPA improve with the quality of CPR delivery, including early recognition and response to CPA, skillful application of effective basic and advanced life support techniques and post-cardiac arrest care.

Although one person can administer basic veterinary CPR, alternating between timed chest compressions and breaths, having two people handle both simultaneously makes the procedure easier.

“Once you have an unresponsive dog or cat, it works best to begin immediately with chest compressions, with a second person handling respiration,” said Dr. Brady. “These two can swap places every two minutes, because the chest compressions are tiring, but you want to keep it up until you’ve given the heart a chance to start again on its own.

“If you’re in a hospital setting and your team is trained and available, they can provide advanced life support—things like inserting an IV catheter and administering drugs, intubating and getting the patient hooked up to oxygen and an EKG machine. Team members can also look in the patient’s medical history for health problems or adverse reactions to drugs and write down all that’s being done in the moment to revive the pet so we have it for our records.”

As in human medicine, Dr. Brady said CPR alone doesn’t always restart a cat or dog’s heart, and even if it does, long-term survival is far from guaranteed. “With CPR, we’re mainly trying to buy time and keep oxygenated blood flowing to the brain and heart in hopes of a successful resuscitation with minimal tissue damage. Ideally, if CPR works, the heart starts back up and you get them breathing again. If you can do that, you then have a chance to diagnose the problem and try to solve it.

“You have the best chances of a successful result when CPR’s a team effort, and what you’re doing is based on current, evidence-based best practices. That’s why I’m excited to pass on to my entire staff what I learned to get certified.”

About the RECOVER Initiative

The RECOVER initiative is a non-profit, volunteer effort undertaken in 2010 by the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care and the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society. More than 100 board-certified veterinary medical specialists spent 18 months systematically reviewing the experimental and clinical evidence in CPR research and devised evidence-based, consensus CPR guidelines for dogs and cats. The organization published its first RECOVER guidelines in 2012 and, based on its continuing work, anticipates publishing revised guidelines in 2020.

So far, about 9,000 veterinarians, veterinary technicians, veterinary nurses and students worldwide have completed the RECOVER online course. In addition to about 1,000 certified RECOVER Rescuers, there are about 190 certified RECOVER instructors qualified to lead certification workshops and labs.

Although the guidelines have been available since 2012, RECOVER Initiative Program Director Kenichiro Yagi said, “RECOVER is at its initial stages of adoption by the veterinary field. Progressive individuals and practices wanting to adopt the best evidence-based practice in veterinary CPR are the ones who find RECOVER.”

“We don’t have data to show whether the guidelines have led to increased survival,” said RECOVER Initiative Co-Chair Daniel J. Fletcher, PhD, DVM and Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care. “Until we have data to share, what we can say is that folks who complete the RECOVER certification process report feeling much more confident and less stressed when an arrest occurs and feel that they are now more prepared when an arrest happens. So we’re making some progress!”

“Until the RECOVER initiative, there were no published standards or guidelines about veterinary CPR, and that led to a wide range of approaches and I’m sure, a lot of chaos, too,” said Dr. Brady. “What veterinarians and technicians did know was often adapted from human protocols, and it turns out what works for humans doesn’t always work for dogs and cats.

“Fortunately, in general practice, cases of cardiopulmonary arrest are relatively rare. I’ve encountered fewer than a half-dozen or so in my 15 years as a general practitioner. Of course, every one of those cases was pretty stressful.

“Now, as a result of this training, my team and I will be prepared to recognize common cardiopulmonary arrest warnings, we’ll all know the evidence-based treatment strategies and proper drug doses to use and how best to care for surviving patients after CPR. I’m sure we’ll feel calmer and more confident, should we need to resuscitate a patient, and the animal’s chances of survival will improve.

“I feel empowered now! There is no longer any guesswork. I know what to do. No more chaos!”

To maintain certification, Dr. Brady will be required to take a comprehensive online course every two years. RECOVER CPR is the only official veterinary CPR certification recognized by the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care and the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society.

For information about RECOVER certification programs for veterinary professionals, first responders and pet care professionals, and pet owners, visit the RECOVER Initiative website.

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Obese dog

The Health Impact of Obesity on Pets

A recent post on the American Veterinarian web site uses pet insurance claims statistics to document top ten diseases related to obesity.

According to the post, “Of the more than 1.4 million pet insurance claims filed in 2016 through Nationwide, the largest provider of pet health insurance in the nation, 20% were for conditions and diseases related to pet obesity. Unfortunately, this signifies that pet obesity is on the rise for the seventh consecutive year.”

Based on its database of more than 630,000 insured pets, Nationwide determined the top 10 dog and cat obesity-related conditions. Visit the web page to see the top ten list.

If you think your pet could benefit from slimming down, call us during office hours to schedule your exam and weight loss consultation.

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Happy cat

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.

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Brownsburg Animal Clinic dental procedure

Cal’s Dental Procedure

Given the importance of dental health care for pets, I want to give you a behind-the-scenes look at my own boxer—General Stubs Calhoun—and his 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.

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Screen shot of Pet Diabetes Month website home page

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.

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Dog in red sweater with autumn leaves in background

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.

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A mixed-breed dog belonging to Dr. Brady

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.

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A black cat in silhouette

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.

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Microchip and grain of rice to show relative size

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.

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.

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An alert Weimaraner

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.

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!

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Close-up of a blue-eyed cat's face

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.

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.

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Three dogs running across a field

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.

Our advice: If you love your pets, leave them at home!

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