Disease Management

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.

A girl and a boy sitting on a sofa with a dog between them

Your Pet Can Make You Sick

A zoonotic disease is one that can be transmitted from an animal to a human. There are more than 100 such diseases—usually involving parasites, fungal or bacterial infections—but most are rare in North America and can often be avoided by controlling parasites and observing good basic hygiene practices—especially hand-washing.

Common Zoonotic Diseases in Dogs

  • Ringworm
  • Salmonellosis
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Campylobacter infection
  • Giardia infection
  • Cryptosporidium infection
  • Roundworms
  • Hookworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Scabies
  • Harvest mites
  • Rabies

Common Zoonotic Diseases in Cats

  • Ringworm
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Salmonellosis
  • Campylobacter infection 
  • Giardia infection
  • Cryptosporidium infection
  • Roundworms
  • Hookworms
  • Cat scratch disease
  • Rabies


Of these most common zoonotic diseases, rabies is the most serious to animals and humans alike. Pets can contract rabies if bitten by an infected animal. Left untreated, rabies is fatal. 

Fortunately, we have an effective vaccine to prevent rabies in pets, required by law in Indiana. See our “Rabies Vaccination Requirement” page for our clinic’s policy on rabies vaccinations.


Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease associated with cats infected after eating infected prey or raw meat. Infected cats excrete the parasites in their feces, usually for no more than two weeks, and during that time the parasite can be transmitted to other cats and humans. 

People can be infected by their cat when cleaning litter boxes or inadvertently handling cat feces in the yard. 

Most cats and people infected with toxoplasmosis experience few if any symptoms. Treatment may be required for those with compromised immune systems.

For pregnant women, however, toxoplasmosis is a serious concern. If contracted during the early months of pregnancy, it can cause miscarriage or stillbirth. Surviving babies who have been exposed to toxoplasmosis in utero can have seizures, enlarged liver or spleen and eye infections. Later in life, these children may experience hearing loss or mental disabilities.

If you’re pregnant and have a cat, another family member should clean litter boxes during the pregnancy. If you must manage litter boxes yourself, wear gloves and scoop twice daily to prevent the parasites from becoming infective.

Cat Scratch Disease

Cat scratch disease—also known as cat scratch fever—is caused by bacteria cats pick up from a tick or flea bite and pass to humans by a bite or scratch. The bacteria can also be transmitted through saliva, so a person can contract it if an infected cat licks at a scab or open sore. 

While cats carrying the bacteria usually show no symptoms, humans usually break out in small reddish bumps or blisters around the infection site. As the colloquial name implies, humans can also run a fever and experience swollen lymph nodes, headaches and fatigue. 

Usually cat scratch disease clears up on its own, but persistent cases may require antibiotic treatment. 


An animal infected with hookworms excretes hookworm eggs through its feces. In the soil, the eggs grow into immature worms or larvae. If someone steps on or handles the contaminated soil, the larvae can penetrate the skin and infect the person with hookworms.

An early sign of a hookworm infection is an itchy rash where the larvae entered the skin. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include stomach pain, diarrhea, appetite loss, fatigue and anemia. Children with chronic hookworm infections can have impaired physical and mental development. 

Treatment involves administering medicine to kill the parasites.


Roundworms are also spread as eggs in infected animals’ feces that contaminate soil. Handling the soil or the egg-containing feces can transmit roundworms. A mother dog or cat can pass along roundworms to their litters when nursing. 

Roundworm infections may cause no symptoms at first, but as the infection progresses, fever, stomach pain, difficulty breathing and eye issues may develop.

The best way to avoid contracting roundworms from your pet is to practice good sanitary habits and give worm preventives year-round. Medicines are available to treat roundworm infections. 


Ringworm is actually a fungal infection caused by mold-like parasites residing on the skin of both humans and pets. No worms are involved. The “ring” refers to a red circular rash around the infection site. 

Starting as a scaly, reddish, itchy patch of skin, ringworm spreads as raised rings form around the outside of the patch.

Ringworm is highly contagious and can be contracted by contact with infected pets or people or touching the spores on furniture, carpets or other surfaces. 

Most ringworm infections resolve on their own, but we may recommend treatment to shorten the duration of infection and reduce the risk of spreading the disease to other pets and people. We usually prescribe topical or oral medicines for your pet and recommend decontaminating your environment to rid it of the ringworm spores. 


Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that multiple animals, including wildlife, cattle, horses, pigs and rodents can carry. Dogs most often are infected when they swim in or drink water contaminated by the urine of an infected animal. The disease can also spread through direct contact with an infected animal, by eating meat containing the bacteria or by contacting objects contaminated with the bacteria. 

Dogs and people infected with leptospirosis may show no signs in the early stages. As the disease progresses, symptoms in both animals and people may include fever, stiffness, vomiting and diarrhea. 

Symptoms may recede and then return again later. Untreated, leptospirosis can lead to liver disease, kidney failure and death. It can be treated with antibiotics. 

Transmission of leptospirosis from dogs to people is rare.

For more information, see our post, “Answering Your Questions About Leptospirosis.”

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by bacteria transmitted through the bite of an infected deer tick. You can’t contract the disease directly from an infected pet, but you can pick up a deer tick of your own from the same environment as your pet, or your pet may bring an unattached tick into your home that ends up biting you.

For more information about Lyme disease, see our blog post, “Lyme Disease, Your Pet and You.”

Zoonotic Risks

Based on scientific evidence, we’re happy to report the risks of contracting a zoonotic disease from your pet are minimal. The risk is slightly higher for people with compromised immune systems. Also at risk are very young children, elderly people, and pregnant women.

To cut the risk of contracting a zoonotic disease—

  • Schedule regular wellness visits so your pet can be screened for infections and parasites and vaccinated to prevent serious diseases.
  • Use flea and tick preventives recommended for your pet year-round.
  • Use a broad-spectrum deworming product regularly. Most heartworm preventives control hookworms, roundworms and whipworms, too.
  • Keep yourself and your pets away from wild animals.
  • Do not allow your dog to splash around in or drink water that could be contaminated. Bring fresh drinking water along with you on your outings together.
  • If your pet shows any sign of illness or skin lesions, make an appointment with us for diagnosis and treatment right away.
  • Wear gloves when doing yard work where dogs, cats or other animals may have urinated or defecated.
  • Pick up and safely dispose of feces in your yard and on walks with your dog.
  • Place your cat’s litter box away from the kitchen and food storage areas.
  • Clean the litter box daily, as the organism that causes toxoplasmosis takes at least 24 hours to become infectious.
  • Use disposable litter box liners, changing them every time you clean the litter box. Use the liner to  contain soiled litter. Avoid dumping it and possibly inhaling aerosolized infectious particles. 
  • Every two weeks, wash the litter box with hot water and let it soak for at least five minutes to kill the Toxoplasma organism.
  • Do not allow children to contact pets’ feces or pets to contact children’s feces.
  • Cover your children’s sandbox to keep cats from using it as a litter box.
  • Provide separate food and water bowls for pets, and wash and store them separately from dishes used by human household members.
  • Wash your pet’s bedding often.
  • Wash your hands and have children wash their hands thoroughly after handling pets.

More Resources

For much more detailed information about zoonoses in family pets, see these two documents from Washington State University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee: 

Let Us Help

Talk to your veterinarian about keeping your pet free of diseases that could be passed along to you and your family. 

Overweight cat yawning

Overweight, Obesity and Your Pet’s Health

Over the past decade, the number of overweight cats has increased by 169% and the number of overweight dogs by 158%.

As a result, most pets in the United States, including about 56% of dogs and 60% of cats, are overweight or obese.

“Overweight” dogs weigh 10% to 30% more than their ideal body weight. An “obese” dog’s weight exceeds its ideal weight by more than 30%. The definitions are similar for cats. 

The consequences are serious. Obese pets are more likely to have a number of additional health problems, including—

  • Arthritis
  • Respiratory problems
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Kidney disease
  • Skin infections
  • Shorter life expectancy (2.5 years shorter, according to one study)

These adverse health conditions result in a reduced quality of life for you and your pet as well as increased health care costs. 

Fortunately, the Brownsburg Animal Clinic team can help you help your overweight or obese pet achieve a healthier weight.

Is Your Pet Overweight or Obese?

It sounds like a simple question, but it can be hard for owners to judge their own pets’ weight accurately. 

In a study by Purina, when researchers asked owners of 201 healthy adult dogs to score their dogs’ body condition using the Purina Body Condition System as a guide, the owners said 28% of the dogs were overweight. A professional skilled in body condition scoring who evaluated the same dogs found 79% were overweight. 

You can use Purina’s system to evaluate your own pet’s body condition before your next appointment at the clinic. To help you get started, the Purina Institute offers simple instructions on making your assessment. 

Here’s a brief video for cat owners:

The Purina Institute also provides an illustrated reference sheet to help you assess your cat’s body condition.

Similarly, the Purina Institute offers a video assessment how-to for dog owners. 

Here’s a visual reference chart to help you evaluate your dog’s body condition. 

Also from the Purina Institute, we recommend two free downloadable handouts—“Benefits of healthy weight” and “Maintaining healthy weight.”

More Resources

If, based on your initial assessment, you think your pet may be overweight, we encourage you to visit the American Veterinary Medical Association’s web page titled, “Your pet’s healthy weight.” There you’ll find advice on working with your veterinarian to help your pet achieve a healthy weight. 

The Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association has published a paper as a downloadable PDF, “Nutritional Management of Canine and Feline Obesity,” that provides a fairly comprehensive overview of key aspects of obesity in dogs and cats. Although the paper is written for veterinarians, the language is not overly technical, and any client whose pet is overweight or obese can benefit from reading it.

You may also want to review the post we published last October in observance of National Pet Obesity Awareness Day.

We’re Ready to Help!

Pet obesity has been called one of the most uncomfortable exam room topics for veterinary professionals, but at Brownsburg Animal Clinic, we feel it’s one of the most important. 

Rest assured, if we diagnose your pet as overweight or obese, you have absolutely no reason to feel ashamed, embarrassed or judged. Our primary focus will be not on blame or shame but on collaborating with you to develop a workable plan to address the problem for the greater good of our patient—your beloved pet.

Remember—overweight and obesity are increasingly prevalent problems shared by more than half our patients. We look forward to helping you help your pet achieve a healthier body weight for a longer, happier life!

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.

FreeStyle Libre glucose monitoring system

Better Care for Diabetic Pets

For owners of diabetic pets—about one of every 300 dogs and one of every 230 cats—monitoring blood glucose (blood sugar) levels is a familiar part of diagnosing and managing the disease. 

Traditionally, veterinarians have relied on blood glucose curves to evaluate diabetic pets’ blood glucose levels. To set the data points for the curve, we would draw blood every 2 hours during a day-long stay at the clinic, providing us with 4 to 6 separate test results to chart the pet’s blood glucose levels at intervals throughout the day. 

Many patients tolerated the repeated blood draws well, but some were understandably uncooperative. After all, who wants to spend an entire day at the hospital having blood drawn every couple of hours? 

The resulting struggles with resistant pets were not only stressful for patients and team members but sometimes caused blood sugar to rise—a condition called stress hyperglycemia—making the results potentially unreliable as an indicator of the pet’s blood glucose levels on a normal day at home. 

We also had no convenient way to use traditional blood glucose curves to monitor fluctuations in blood glucose levels after-hours and during the night.

A Better Way

We’ve recently adopted a faster, easier, more comprehensive and less painful way to monitor diabetic pets’ blood glucose levels—a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system that uses a sensor applied to the pet’s skin and a hand-held reader or a smartphone app the pet owner uses at home to scan and automatically upload data from the sensor. 

Used in human medicine for nearly a decade, Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre 14-day CGM system is now Brownsburg Animal Clinic veterinarians’ method of choice for monitoring pets’ blood glucose levels to help diagnose and manage diabetes. 

How it Works

To get started, we call in a prescription to the client’s pharmacy for a FreeStyle Libre 14-day sensor to bring to the pet’s appointment to have the sensor applied. The pet owner also needs to buy a reader or download a smartphone app to use at home to collect readings from the sensor. 

Dog with blood glucose sensor attached

Readings can begin about an hour after the sensor is applied and activated with the reader or compatible smartphone. The pet owner scans data by holding the reader or phone within an inch or two of the sensor. The scanned data is automatically uploaded to an online account the pet owner shares with our veterinarians to give them access to test results. 

We recommend taking readings at least every 8 hours for continuous monitoring. Except in cases of medical emergency, our veterinarians usually wait 5 days before reviewing the pet’s blood glucose graphs and will contact the owner only if adjustments to the pet’s insulin dose need to be made. After the initial review, the doctors may monitor additional reports stored in the account to calibrate changes in the insulin dose.

While the sensors can potentially collect data continuously for as long as 14 days, most sensors do not stay in place on companion animals for the full 2 weeks. Ideally, a newly-applied sensor will stay put and keep tracking for at least a few days as we adjust insulin dosages, leading to better glucose regulation sooner. Even a single day of data from a sensor provides us considerably more information than the 4 to 6 data points provided by a single blood glucose curve.

Over time, we anticipate the cost of using FreeStyle Libre for ongoing monitoring and management of a diabetic pet’s blood glucose levels will be comparable to and perhaps even somewhat lower than the cost to administer a single traditional blood glucose curve. 

The ability to take continuous readings around the clock in the pet’s home environment, the pet’s reduced stress and discomfort, and the quality and quantity of data provided by FreeStyle Libre, added together, are priceless. 

We’ve created a handout for owners of diabetic pets to explain in detail how the FreeStyle Libre system works and will be happy to answer questions about how this technology will improve ongoing care for your diabetic pet. 

Visit our Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs and Cats page to learn more about symptoms to look for and how we collaborate with our clients to manage their pets’ disease successfully. 

Cat licking dog's face

Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs and Cats

About one of every 300 dogs and one of every 230 cats will develop diabetes mellitus during his or her lifetime. The disease can develop at any age, but most diabetic dogs are diagnosed between ages 7 and 10. Most diagnosed diabetic cats are older than 6. Obesity is a significant risk factor.

Diabetes mellitus is caused by the body’s inability to use its cells’ main source of energy—glucose—normally. 

Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas to help regulate blood glucose levels, plays an essential role in transferring glucose from the bloodstream to the cells. In diabetics, the pancreas may not produce enough insulin, or the sensitivity to insulin may be impaired. 

As a result, the cells do not receive enough energy to function properly.

Blood glucose levels that are too high or too low can be life threatening, but with prompt diagnosis and ongoing management by the veterinary team in collaboration with the pet owner, most diabetic pets can live long, healthy lives. 

What to Look For

Symptoms of diabetes mellitus include—

  • Excessive water drinking and increased urination
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Cloudy eyes, especially in dogs
  • Chronic or recurring infections

If your pet is showing any of these symptoms, contact us to schedule an appointment for an examination right away.

We confirm the diabetes diagnosis by checking glucose levels in your pet’s blood and urine. We may also run additional blood and urine tests to rule out other medical problems common to older pets. 


Once we make the diabetes mellitus diagnosis, we will most likely prescribe twice-daily insulin injections, showing you how to give the shots at home. Most pets tolerate the injections well. 

We may also recommend changes to your pet’s diet and prescribe a program of daily exercise suitable for your pet’s age, weight and overall physical condition.

To monitor your pet’s blood glucose levels—more frequently at first, as we adjust the insulin dosage, and then about every six months—we will prescribe a FreeStyle Libre 14-day Continuous Glucose Monitoring System. For more information about FreeStyle Libre, see our post titled “Better Care for Diabetic Pets.”

For detailed information about how the FreeStyle Libre system works, you may review and download our handout, “Continuous Glucose Monitoring for Your Diabetic Pet Using the FreeStyle Libre 14-Day CGM System.”

For more information about diabetes mellitus in pets, visit the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website.

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.

Screen shot of Pet Diabetes Month website home page


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.

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.