Disease Management

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. 

Your Pet Can Make You Sick Read More »

Two doctors' hands holding stethoscopes

Pros and Cons of Seeing Only One Veterinarian

On a recent in-house survey, a client told us that after seeing one of our veterinarians regularly and repeatedly for her pet’s diabetes treatment, she was surprised that a different veterinarian conducted the annual wellness exam. 

“This is fine,” she assured us, “because we were treated well and the doctor that we saw did a great job. I just think it might be a good idea to ask the client if there’s a certain doctor they would prefer to see, or if not, to let them know which doctor they are scheduled to meet with.”

Great suggestion! We agree! 

In fact, in the normal course of business at the front desk, we do ask about your preference for a particular veterinarian and if you have no preference, we mention which doctor you’ll see at the upcoming appointment. 

From time to time, however, with clients lined up at the counter and on hold on the phone, your choice of veterinarian is a detail that can slip through the cracks. And in setting the appointment date and time, we may not ask about your preference or identify which doctor you’ll see. 

You Have a Choice

Brownsburg Animal Clinic has four veterinarians on staff—Drs. Brady, Mitchell, Williams and Barton. Our four most-often-scheduled relief veterinarians are Drs. Klemens, Griggers, Anderson and Neyenhaus.

You are free to ask to see your choice of doctors every time you visit, and limiting yourself to a single veterinarian does have its benefits:

  • The more encounters you have with a particular veterinarian, the better you and your pet get to know and trust your vet.
  • You may establish a good, trusting rapport with a particular veterinarian and simply enjoy interacting with him or her as your preferred choice.
  • If your pet has an ongoing health concern, it can be easier to work with one doctor who’s familiar with the case and has complete, first-hand knowledge of you pet’s medical history, health issues and temperament. 
  • One study found that veterinary practices that assigned the same veterinarian to the client’s every visit saw an increase in the number of visits over the previous two years, so you may even feel inclined to visit us more often if you expect to see the same vet.

The benefits of being more flexible in your choice of veterinarians:

  • You can often be seen sooner if you’re willing to schedule an appointment with the next available doctor.
  • You don’t have to limit your appointment times to the days and hours when a particular doctor works.
  • You don’t have to wait for your preferred doctor to return from vacation, continuing education or sick leave before scheduling an appointment. 
  • If you have established relationships with multiple veterinarians at our practice, you’re more comfortable seeing any of them in case of an accident or sudden illness requiring immediate treatment.
  • Sometimes two (or three or four) heads are better than one. When you see more than one veterinarian, your pet benefits from their diverse experience and multiple perspectives.

Speak Up!

We leave it to you to decide if you prefer to see a particular veterinarian as exclusively as is practicable, knowing there may be trade-offs in availability. Just let us know your preference.

You may also let us know if you’d rather not see a specific doctor. 

Either way, we’ll note your preference in your pet’s medical record and do our best to accommodate you. 

If you’ve indicated you’re open to seeing the next available vet, and we don’t volunteer the information, ask us which doctor you’ll be seeing.

Pros and Cons of Seeing Only One Veterinarian Read More »

Cat scolding a dog

Managing Your Pet’s Seizures

Seizures—sometimes called fits or convulsions—happen when your pet experiences sudden surges of uncontrollable, mild to violent muscle spasms caused by temporary disturbances of normal brain function. 

Here are a few facts about seizures:

  • Both cats and dogs can have seizures.
  • Your pet will not swallow its tongue during a seizure. 
  • Seizures are not painful unless the thrashing about results in injury.
  • Seizures aren’t contagious.
  • Seizures are not life-threatening so long as they last for less than 5 minutes and happen only once within a 24-hour period.
  • Seizures that last longer than 20 minutes or those occurring in multiple clusters may cause brain damage.

Seizures can be a one-time occurrence, or they can recur with varying frequency at regular or random intervals. They can last for a few seconds, minutes or even hours. 

Possible causes of one-time seizures:

  • Metabolic disturbance or diseases
  • Head trauma
  • Low blood sugar
  • Severe fever
  • Poisoning
  • Brain tumors
  • Liver or kidney problems
  • Electrolyte imbalances

Recurring seizures can indicate epilepsy if all other causes are ruled out. Epilepsy is the most common chronic neurological disorder in veterinary medicine, affecting as many as 1% of dogs and 2% of cats.

Types of Seizures

We classify seizures as either focal or generalized.

A focal seizure—sometimes referred to as a partial seizure—originates in a small area of the cerebral cortex and impacts specific body parts in a variety of ways. Symptoms may appear as twitching on the side of the face or eyelid, loud vocalizations, excessive drooling, aggression, loss of leg function, abnormal head or neck movements, staring off into space, chewing motions or being unable to get up without help.

Generalized seizures involve both sides of the brain and affect the pet’s entire body. We further classify generalized seizures as grand mal (French for “big illness”) or petit mal (“small illness”).

Grand mal seizures are the more common and recognizable type, with signs and symptoms including:

  • Falling to one side
  • Uncontrollable muscle movements
  • Loss of bowel and/or bladder control
  • Loss of consciousness

Grand mal seizures usually last less than five minutes.

As the name suggests, petit mal seizures are not nearly as severe as grand mal seizures and may even occur without being noticed. Your pet may stare off into space, seem confused, chew imaginary gum or swat at imaginary flies while having a petit mal seizure. 

What to Do if Your Pet Has a Seizure

Seizures can be disturbing to watch, but your best response is to stay calm and observe what is happening. 

  • Don’t touch or pick up your seizing pet unless he or she needs to be moved to prevent a fall or head injury. If you need to move your pet, take the collar or the hind legs and gently drag him or her away from the hazard.
  • Keep your hands and face away from your pet’s mouth to avoid being bitten.
  • Protect the seizing pet from children and other pets.
  • Be prepared to report how your pet behaved immediately before, during and after the seizure. If there are multiple seizures, note the date, time, duration and description of each one. 

The most important thing to do is time the seizure. If it lasts less than 5 minutes, there’s no need to seek immediate veterinary care. Just call us during regular business hours to let us know the seizure happened and to set up an appointment to evaluate possible causes. 

If a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or if your pet has multiple seizures within a short time—called cluster seizures—your pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian immediately. If this happens during our business hours, call us to determine how best to get your pet the needed care in a timely way. If possible, we will work you in among the day’s scheduled appointments. If we are unable to care for your pet right away, we will recommend visiting an emergency clinic. 

How We Treat Seizures

A brief, one-time seizure lasting no longer than 3 to 5 minutes and followed by immediate recovery may not require treatment.

For recurring seizures, while we’d like to eliminate them entirely, a more realistic treatment goal is to lessen their frequency, duration and severity by prescribing anticonvulsant drugs.  

All oral anticonvulsants take time to build up in your pet’s system before they begin to affect the brain’s susceptibility to seizures. Failure to control seizures before the drug has time to take effect does not mean the drug is not working or the dose should be changed. The length of time needed depends on the drug. Some medications take several weeks to reach therapeutic levels. 

Most anticonvulsants require twice-daily dosing, though there are a few that require only once-a-day dosing. Some require dosing every 8 hours. Your veterinarian may recommend keeping a rescue drug—like valium to be administered rectally—on hand at home to use when a severe seizure is underway. 

Anticonvulsant drugs can help prevent future seizures but are not absorbed rapidly enough from the stomach to have any effect on an ongoing seizure. Giving additional oral doses of medications while your pet is seizing is not helpful. If your pet is experiencing a seizure lasting longer than 5 minutes, we may administer anticonvulsants intravenously.  

We can tell how well an anticonvulsant is working by comparing the records you’ve made of seizure frequency and severity before starting the drug with the frequency and severity of seizures you’ve recorded after drug has been maintained for a time at a steady state level in your pet’s brain. 

It can take several months to get the best possible results. Sometimes we need to add a second medication to achieve this.

Here’s our recommended protocol for all patients on anticonvulsant drugs: 

  • Physical exam every 6 to 12 months.
  • CBC/Chemistry profile and bile acids blood tests every 6 to 12 months to detect any drug-related or metabolic issues before they adversely affect your pet. 
  • Blood tests to make sure the dose and frequency of the drug we’ve prescribed is enough to achieve the desired drug level in the brain and to make sure drug toxicity is not occurring. 

As a general rule, once your pet begins taking an anticonvulsant, he or she will need to continue taking it for life.

Living with Your Pet’s Seizures

Pets prone to seizures are usually normal between seizures and if they’re in good health otherwise, can enjoy a good quality of life and a full lifespan. 

For their owners, managing pets’ seizures over a lifetime can be challenging. 

Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College in London recently interviewed 21 owners of dogs with epilepsy. Among their findings:

  • Witnessing a pet’s seizure is distressing. 
  • Not knowing when and how often the next seizures will be adds to owners’ stress.
  • Following the first seizure, owners of seizing pets reported feeling distraught, fearful and uncertain about their pet’s future.
  • Owners may fear leaving a pet prone to seizures unsupervised.
  • Some owners reported having difficulty getting help caring for their seizure-prone dogs.
  • Owners said the people in their lives did not always understand the magnitude of commitment required to care for an epileptic dog.

The researchers concluded, “the commitment required to care for a dog with idiopathic epilepsy, and the lifestyle changes made by their owners, may be far greater than previously estimated. Further consideration of these factors by veterinary professionals and the friends and families of owners of dogs with idiopathic epilepsy could improve owner quality of life and facilitate the provision of additional support.”

At Brownsburg Animal Clinic, in addition to offering the best possible medical care for our patients experiencing seizures, we do our best to offer understanding and support to our clients who love and care for them. We appreciate your commitment.

Managing Your Pet’s Seizures Read More »

Bags of Hill's, Purina and Royal Canin brand prescription diets

Price-Shopping Prescribed Diets

We have for many years carried and prescribed two brands of therapeutic pet foods (also known generically as prescription or veterinary diets) at Brownsburg Animal Clinic—Hill’s Prescription Diet and Royal Canin’s “veterinary range.” 

Our veterinarians also prescribe Purina Pro Plan, but until now, we’ve kept very few Purina products in stock at the clinic.

All three of these leading brands’ specially-formulated therapeutic diets contain high-quality ingredients, meet stringent manufacturing standards and are generally proven to be beneficial. We wouldn’t prescribe them if they weren’t trustworthy and effective. 

But in recent months, we’ve seen such a sudden and substantial increase in Royal Canin’s prices that we’ve decided to switch over to Purina Pro Plan, along with Hill’s, as our two primary in-house brands, available for purchase at the clinic.

You can still buy all three brands’ regular and therapeutic formulas online for home delivery through our VetSource store.  

All three companies’ products are available from other online retailers and area brick-and-mortar stores as well.

Why We Prescribe Therapeutic Diets

Even in a state of optimal health, what your pet eats has a direct impact on his or her vitality and wellbeing. For all pets, at all life stages, we recommend feeding good-quality, age-appropriate food from reputable manufacturers, and we’re happy to help you choose from among the many over-the-counter products.

To create therapeutic, prescription or veterinary diets, veterinary nutritionists manipulate nutrient levels and ingredients according to various tested formulas to benefit animals with a broad range of specific health conditions. 

We prescribe therapeutic diets for pets we diagnose with conditions that have been shown to respond to these specially-formulated foods.

Specific conditions treated by therapeutic diets for dogs include:

  • Anxiety
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cognitive dysfunction syndrome
  • Colitis
  • Critical care
  • Dental
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Epilepsy
  • Food allergy/food intolerance
  • Gastrointestinal conditions
  • Hepatic (liver) diseases
  • Joint disease
  • Obesity
  • Oxalate stones (urolithiasis)
  • Renal (kidney) disease
  • Struvite stones (urolithiasis)

Conditions treated by therapeutic diets for cats:

  • Constipation
  • Critical care
  • Dental
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Food allergy/food intolerance
  • Gastrointestinal conditions
  • Hepatic (liver) diseases
  • Obesity
  • Oxalate stones (urolithiasis)
  • Renal (kidney) disease
  • Struvite stones (urolithiasis)

Hill’s Prescription Diet, Purina Pro Plan and Royal Canin offer products to provide tailored nutrition for pets with these conditions. If your veterinarian diagnoses any of these conditions and recommends a therapeutic diet, with a few exceptions, you’re likely to have a choice of at least two and more often three brands and, perhaps, multiple products within the brands to compare. Many formulas are available as both canned wet food and dry kibble.

What Therapeutic Diets Are Not

The Food and Drug Administration does not consider therapeutic diets to be “drugs” and does not legally require they be sold by prescription only. It’s the manufacturers and retailers who have chosen to require a prescription from a veterinarian before therapeutic foods can be sold. 

Therapeutic diets are not medicine. They do not contain drugs or ingredients not also used in over-the-counter pet foods. They are more like nutraceuticals—digestible products similar to therapeutic vitamins and minerals that can support and influence your pet’s biological functions. The tested and demonstrated health benefits come from the precise combination of ingredients formulated by veterinary nutritionists to provide the best possible dietary support for pets diagnosed with the targeted medical conditions. 

Therapeutic diets don’t cure diseases. They help us manage them. We use them as a complement to—not a substitute for—more comprehensive medical treatment.

As a rule, these deliberately formulated diets are not appropriate and may even be harmful for pets not diagnosed with the medical problem the diet is intended to support. Some are intended only for short-term use, while others may continue to benefit your pet indefinitely. Your veterinarian will monitor your pet and advise how long to continue with a therapeutic diet.

Marketing strategies aside, we believe this by-prescription-only policy helps minimize possible misuse of therapeutic diets by pet owners who might be tempted to feed them without first seeking sound medical advice and supervision.  If your pet has a health issue that warrants a special diet, your veterinarian should be involved in definitively diagnosing the condition, recommending the right food and monitoring the diet’s impact on your pet over time.

Why Therapeutic Diets Cost More Than Regular Pet Food

As the ingredients lists show, therapeutic diets are made of essentially the same foods and nutrition supplements as regular pet foods.

It’s not the ingredients that make these foods cost more. It’s the science behind the formulation, quality control, testing and tweaking to produce the most medically beneficial results.

Before bringing a therapeutic diet to market, the manufacturer must show through extensive testing that it’s safe and effective for pets with specific conditions. 

Contrary to fairly common belief, therapeutic diets are not big money-makers for most veterinary practices—ours included. Our mark-ups on these products are typically less than mark-ups on the regular pet foods you buy at the grocery or big box store. 

We keep the most commonly-prescribed products in inventory for our clients’ convenience and to get our patients started on their prescription food without delay. In our online store, we aim to keep our prices in line with leading online retailers. 

Our Advice to the Cost-Conscious

Given that specialized therapeutic diets tend to cost more than regular-formula pet foods, we understand feeding your pet a prescription diet—especially if needed over the long term—can strain your budget. 

After the first bag or case of canned food is finished, you may even be tempted to switch back to regular food, saving you money but depriving your pet of the potential health benefits of the prescribed diet. 

Like you, we want what’s best for your pet and your budget. That’s why, if you want or need to be especially price-conscious about your pet’s therapeutic diet, we encourage you to price-shop all three leading brands—Hill’s Prescription Diet, Purina Pro Plan and Royal Canin—and talk to your veterinarian about costs relative to quality and effectiveness of one brand’s equivalent or similar formula over another. 

All else being equal, so long as the proposed product benefits your pet—our patient—we’re happy to consider prescribing the brand that helps you save some money.

Therapeutic Diet Price-Shopping Tips

There are hundreds of therapeutic pet foods on the market. If you’re shopping online, begin by using filters to display only foods meant for your pet’s specific health condition. 

And yes, we know in your online shopping you will encounter more than the top three competing brands of dog food offering therapeutic formulas of their own. Once you’ve narrowed your choices by health condition, we recommend filtering out all but the three leading brands—Hill’s Prescription Diet, Purina Pro Plan and Royal Canin. 

These are the brands our veterinarians know best and trust most. These are the brands we’ve prescribed for countless pets and can confidently recommend to you.

Base your price comparison on unit cost—the cost per pound or ounce—in all the available sizes. Click through as needed to see package size options for your pet’s prescribed food. 

As a rule, larger sizes cost less per pound. If you’re looking only at the price-per-pound for the smallest sized packages, you’re likely seeing the highest unit prices. 

Note, too, that each of the three manufacturers’ smallest available size is different. For one therapeutic dry dog food variety, for example, Purina Pro Plan’s smallest bag is 6 pounds at $7.67 per pound, while Royal Canin’s is 7.7 pounds at $6.10 and Hill’s is 8.5 pounds at $5.41. 

In the largest available sizes, the per-pound prices drop from $7.67 to $3.69 for Purina, $5.41 to $4.18 for Hill’s and $6.10 to $4.32 for Royal Canin. Yes, Purina Pro Plan’s unit cost is highest among the smallest sized bags the three brands offer, but in the largest sizes, Purina has the lowest cost per pound.

So it pays to size-shop, too!

As you narrow your choices, the best way to learn about and compare individual products is by visiting the manufacturers’ websites. 

To shop for Hill’s Prescription Diets for dogs, visit the dog products page with the “Prescription Diet” filter selected and check the “Health Category” option for your pet. Hill’s Prescription Diet products for cats are here. Shop for Hill’s products in our online VetSource store. On the Hill’s site, choose the “Buy Online” button to see other online retailers offering the product you need.

To shop for Purina Pro Plan therapeutic diets, visit the company’s products page for dog foods or cat foods, select the “Health Benefit” menu option in the left sidebar and choose your pet’s health condition. Purina’s “Buy Now” buttons take you to a map showing area retailers and online stores carrying the brand. Search “Purina Pro Plan” in our online store to shop there.

To shop for Royal Canin “precision veterinary dog diets,” visit the dog products page and select your pet’s “Specific Needs” in the left sidebar. Royal Canin’s precision veterinary cat diets products page shows the company’s full line of products for cats. The “Find a Retailer” button on individual product pages displays veterinary practices in your area that sell the food as well as area retailers. Royal Canin products are also available in our online store.

Changing From One Food to Another

Whether you’re changing from over-the-counter pet food to a therapeutic diet or switching between therapeutic diet brands, unless your veterinarian advises otherwise, make the transition slowly over a week or two.

Gradually decrease the old diet while increasing the proportion of the new until the transition is complete and you’re feeding the replacement food exclusively. 

Make sure healthy pets in the household don’t have access to the therapeutic food. Feed it only to pets who have been diagnosed by a veterinarian who prescribed the diet specifically for that pet. 

But Is It Tasty?

Some therapeutic diets don’t taste as good to pets as others. Cost considerations aside, your pet may prefer one brand’s flavor over another. 

To derive the benefits of the prescribed food, your pet has to eat it, so before you commit to a $100+ bag of any particular prescribed diet, you may want to try the smallest size first to make sure your pet finds it tasty. 

If your pet won’t eat the prescribed food, ask your veterinarian about possibly more palatable alternatives.

More Resources

For comprehensive brand comparisons, including discussion of regular as well as therapeutic formulas, check out these articles:

Best Quality Dry Dog Food: Royal Canin vs. Hills Science Diet vs. Purina Pro Plan?

Science Diet vs. Purina Pro Plan: Who Wins? [2024]

Purina Pro Plan vs Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food: Our 2024 Comparison

Royal Canin vs Purina Pro Plan Dog Food: Our 2024 In-Depth Comparison

Purina Pro Plan vs. Royal Canin: Who Wins? [2024]

Science Diet vs. Royal Canin: Who Wins? [2024]

You’ll find some repetition and contradictions among the articles, along with plenty of commission-earning affiliate links, but as you narrow your choice of products to discuss with your veterinarian, these exhaustive reviews can help you identify your own concerns and raise the questions most important to you at your next clinic visit.

Price-Shopping Prescribed Diets Read More »

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!

Overweight, Obesity and Your Pet’s Health 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 »

Overweight cat sitting on top of a post

National Pet Obesity Awareness Day

October 11 is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, sponsored by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

On the association’s website, you’ll find an especially useful “Tools and Resources” section featuring guidelines to help you determine if your pet is overweight or obese, ideal weight ranges for popular dog and cat breeds, daily caloric needs for dogs and cats, and instructions to promote weight loss in dogs and cats.

Particularly useful are two downloadable visual reference charts—a body condition scoring chart for dogs and a scoring chart for cats.

For a 5-minute video overview of the impact of obesity on your pet, we encourage you to see “Obesity and Your Pet” from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Here are “8 Easy Ways to Help Your Dog Lose Weight” from The Preventive Vet.

Let Us Help!

We previously published a detailed post about overweight and obesity in pets—”Overweight, Obesity and Your Pet’s Health.” We encourage you read it to find out more about the potential health impact of overweight and obesity on your pet.

If, based on the guidelines in our post, you believe your pet is overweight or obese, the Brownsburg Animal Clinic team is eager to help you help your pet achieve a healthy weight.

Schedule an exam to assess your pet’s current body condition and ask your veterinarian to recommend the best approach to addressing this critically important aspect of your pet’s health and wellbeing.

National Pet Obesity Awareness Day 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 »

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. 

Better Care for Diabetic Pets Read More »

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.

Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs and Cats Read More »

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.

The Health Impact of Obesity on Pets Read More »

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.

Diabetes Read More »

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.

World Rabies Day Read More »