Dogs

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.

Two dogs chewing on a stick

Celebrating National Mutt Day

The Brownsburg Animal Clinic team invites you to join us in celebrating National Mutt Day on December 2, to appreciate, honor and celebrate mixed-breed dogs.

Just what is a mutt?

It’s not a purebred dog, which results from selective mating of only registered stock of the same breed. The American Kennel Club currently registers 200 separate dog breeds. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale—the World Canine Organization or FCI—recognizes 356 breeds worldwide.

It’s not a hybrid dog, which results from the deliberate mating of two purebred dogs from different breeds with the goal of reproducing the most desirable characteristics of each breed in the resulting offspring.

A mixed-breed dog or mutt is born of two dogs that are not from the same breed—or perhaps not from any one particular breed themselves. Usually, a mutt’s ancestry is unknown. Mutts come in all sizes, shapes and colors.

Some of our favorite patients are mutts!

Are Mutts Healthier Than Purebred Dogs?

It is widely believed that mutts are healthier and live longer than purebred dogs, but many of our purebred patients are living long, healthy lives while some of the mutts we care for have seemingly more than their share of health problems.

To determine if mixed-breed dogs are indeed healthier than purebred dogs, a study published in 2013 used medical records of more than 27,000 dogs treated at the veterinary clinic at UC Davis, comparing the incidence of 24 genetic disorders in mixed-breed versus purebred dogs.

The researchers found the incidence of 10 of the 24 genetic disorders was significantly greater in purebred dogs. The incidence of one disorder—ruptured cranial cruciate ligament—was greater in mixed-breed dogs. For the other 13 disorders compared, the researchers found no difference in incidence between mixed-breed and purebred dogs.

So yes, mixed-breed dogs have been shown to be at lower risk than purebreds for some genetic disorders. But for many, there’s no significant difference.

A summary of the study is posted on the Institute of Canine Biology website.

Should Your Next Dog Be a Mutt?

The choice of your next pet is a very personal one, and there is no right or wrong answer. But if you’re open to adopting a mixed-breed dog, you’ll find they generally have all the makings of fine companions and family pets, just as the purebreds and hybrids do.

You’ll also find mutts are more readily available than purebred dogs. About 80% of shelter dogs are mutts.

While the costs of care and feeding purebreds, hybrids and mutts are similar, the up-front cost of acquiring a mixed-breed dog is typically lower than the hundreds or even thousands you’ll pay for a purebred or hybrid dog.

Best of all, your mutt will be one-of-a-kind.

How Will You and Your Mutt Celebrate?

If you are already the proud owner of a mixed-breed dog, we hope you’ll make December 2 special for your mutt.

Some extra pats on the head and tosses of the Frisbee, a longer-than-usual walk, a ride in the car that could include a trip to the drive-though—anything you know your mutt loves (within reason!) will be a great way to celebrate National Mutt Day.

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.

Painting showing the first Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Safety for Pets

Brownsburg Animal Clinic will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Friday and Saturday, November 24, 25 and 26. Normal office hours will resume Monday, November 28 .

If this painting depicting the first Thanksgiving in 1621 is to be believed, a dog was among the guests at the celebration.

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

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

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.

Corgi emerging from a pile of autumn leaves

Adopt-A-Dog Month®

October is American Humane’s yearly “Adopt-a-Dog Month®.”

For some of the very best reasons to adopt a dog this month, here’s a top-10 list of the benefits of dog ownership, presented in a 3:33 video from Animalwised, founded overseas in 2015 to educate people about all sorts of animal-related topics.

For more information on dog ownership—especially if you will be a first-time dog-owner—we encourage you to read “Is a Dog Right for You?” posted on American Humane’s website.

If you are thinking of adding a dog to your household, we hope you’ll consider adopting a rescued dog from a breed club or from Misty Eyes Animal Center.

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.

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.

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.

Dog trainer Ian Dunbar speaking

Ian Dunbar on Dog-Friendly Dog Training

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

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

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

Three border collies hugging

Hugs May Be Stressful for Dogs

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

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

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

Doggone Safe homepage

Reduce the Risk of Dog Bites

We’ve discovered an organization dedicated to teaching dog lovers like you how to educate children—and adults, too—about reducing the risk of being bitten by a dog.

This website belongs to a non-profit organization called Doggone Safe, founded to promote education initiatives to prevent dog bites and increase child safety around dogs. The organization also provides tools and resources for professional dog trainers, behavior consultants and pet care professionals to support dog bite prevention education. 

You don’t have to be a pet care professional to become part of Doggone Safe’s efforts to prevent dog bites. We encourage you to visit the Doggone Safe website to find out how you can become a certified Dog Bite Prevention Educator right here in the Brownsburg community.

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.

Fireworks display

Managing Your Pet’s Noise Anxiety

Over the upcoming extended Independence Day weekend, chances are at least 40 percent of our canine patients will experience anxiety during the celebratory fireworks—the most common trigger for dogs with noise aversion.

Fireworks are a source of suffering for 81% of dogs diagnosed with noise aversion. That’s why the busiest day of the year for intake of runaway dogs in animal shelters is July 5 and why we strongly recommend that you not take your pet to any holiday celebration that includes a fireworks display.

Unlike most people, noise-averse pets do not enjoy fireworks, and may become anxious enough to break free and run away. Trying to find a lost pet after dark in a large, crowded public space is a challenge we don’t want any of our clients to face!

Summer thunderstorms can trigger similar fears, causing panic and dangerous reactions, destruction of furniture and fixtures, self-inflicted injuries and frantic escapes.

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

Diagnosing Your Dog’s Noise Aversion

Illustrations Showing Noise Aversion Symptoms

This brief animated video from the manufacturer of Sileo, a drug we prescribe to treat noise aversion, shows 13 symptoms to help you determine if your dog is noise averse, The company also offers a checklist you can download and print to diagnose your dog. (Hit the back button on your browser to return to this page.)

Home Remedies for Noise Aversion

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

You may create a “safe spot” for your pet in a windowless interior room, like a closet or bathroom, complete with bed and blankets, where he or she can feel secure while riding out the storm or fireworks display.

Making favorite treats and toys available can help—especially toys that might distract, like a peanut-butter-filled Kong toy. In administering treats, just be careful not to reward fearful behavior.

Thundershirts, which work by applying gentle, constant pressure to the pet’s body, similar to swaddling a baby, are also popular and have helped many dogs and cats.

Helpful Medical Treatment

If noise makes your dog anxious, and home remedies aren’t working as well as you’d like,  we can help.

For more severe cases, there are drugs we can prescribe to reduce anxiety and keep your dog relaxed and safe during fireworks, storms and other noisy conditions.

The drugs we most often prescribe to alleviate anxiety symptoms are Xanax and Sileo, and for the best effect, we recommend administering them 30 minutes prior to the anticipated noise.

If home remedies are not effective and you would like to see if drug therapy is indicated, the first step is an office visit to assess the severity of the anxiety and discuss treatment options with you.

While we can’t promise a quieter summer, we may well be able to provide a calmer, more relaxed summer for your noise-averse dog. If you’d like our help, call to schedule an appointment today.

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.

Canine Athlete

Caring for Your Canine Athlete

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Belgian Malinois

Choosing Your Next Dog

Channing Tatum’s new movie “Dog” features the popular actor co-starring with a Belgian Malinois (pronounced MAL-in-wah) named Lulu, portrayed onscreen by three different dogs. 

If the movie’s a hit, the Brownsburg Animal Clinic team won’t be at all surprised in the coming months to see an uptick in the number of Belgian Malinois among our new patients. 

We know Mals can be great pets, but we also know they could potentially be “too much dog” for many of our clients. Whether or not these “Dog”-inspired adoptions will work out well for the dogs and families involved depends on how good a fit this intelligent, high-energy herding breed is with the clients’ households and lifestyles as well as on the temperaments of the individual owners and their dogs. 

Before you go looking for a Lulu of your own—or a Lassie (Collie), a Toto (Cairn Terrier), a Marley (Labrador Retriever), a Beethoven (St. Bernard), a Rin Tin Tin (German Shepherd Dog) or any other breed that strikes your fancy—we strongly encourage you to do plenty of research on the breed you’re considering before bringing home a puppy!

Researching the Breeds

A Google search for “choosing a dog” produces approximately 179,000,000 results, with some pages far more authoritative and informative than others. We suggest the American Kennel Club website as a great place to begin learning about established dog breeds. There you’ll find reliable information about each of the 197 breeds currently recognized by the AKC. 

For example, if you leave the theater after seeing “Dog” convinced your next dog must be a Belgian Malinois, your first stop on the internet should be the Belgian Malinois breed page on the AKC website. There you’ll find a summary of key breed characteristics that should alert you to the realities as well as the rewards of ownership of a typical Belgian Malinois. 

Midway down the page, you’ll find a link to the American Belgian Malinois Club website. The first heading on the homepage says, “This is NOT Your Typical Pet Dog,” and after briefly summarizing the breed’s assets, the first paragraph in that section concludes, “But, the Malinois is NOT for everyone.”

In the page footer, you’ll find links to related pages of interest, including a firsthand account by a Belgian Malinois owner, “Is the Belgian Malinois a Good Fit for You?

Suppose after reading these pages you realize, despite your enthusiasm for the three well-bred, professionally-trained dogs you enjoyed watching play Lulu for two hours on the big screen, in real life a Belgian Malinois in your home 24/7/365 for the next 14 to 16 years will almost certainly require more time and attention than you can realistically expect to offer. 

As a next step, you might enjoy visiting the AKC’s online Dog Breed Selector. After answering a series of simple questions, the selector tool will recommend several breeds for your consideration. Chances are you can find a more suitable breed to consider for yourself and your family. Browse their breed pages to see if the recommended breeds might be a better match for you and your household.

Also on the AKC site, we encourage you to read “What Dog is Right for Me? How to Choose the Perfect Breed.” Then browse more breed pages. Watch dog shows online or on TV. Better yet, visit shows in person and talk to the breeders and exhibitors (after they’ve finished showing for the day). 

A Look at the Bigger Picture

For even more practical advice on choosing a pet dog, offered from the veterinary perspective, see “Selecting a Pet Dog” on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website. To get the most from this page, answer all the questions presented as thoroughly and honestly as you can.

Let Us Help

Finally, in addition to online research, we encourage you to talk to us before you finalize your decision to acquire a dog of an unfamiliar, potentially challenging breed. 

We’ve devoted our careers to caring for pets and their owners, and we have observed relationships between a variety of clients with a variety of breeds. We’re happy to share what we know about what it’s like to own and care for all sorts of purebred dogs.

We see many clients who are happily devoted to their mixed-breed dogs and recommend you also consider adopting a mixed-breed dog from Misty Eyes Animal Center in Avon or some other reputable rescue organization. 

As always, as your veterinarian, our primary mission is to support you in your relationship with whatever dog you choose. We wish you and all our clients the happiest of endings to all your pet adoption stories.

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.

Dog looking at camera next to the word xylitol superimposed over a large red X

Protect Your Dog from Xylitol Poisoning

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “Xylitol (which also may be known as birch sugar or wood sugar) is a sweetener used in many foods and products for people (things like certain gum, sugarless ice cream, candy). Though safe for humans, xylitol can be deadly to dogs and other pets.”

Here’s a brief video from the FDA, warning pet owners of the dangers of xylitol and offering tips on protecting your dog from xylitol poisoning:

For details, including a more comprehensive list of products containing xylitol and more information on the danger the sweetener poses to dogs, read the FDA’s accompanying article, “Paws Off Xylitol; It’s Dangerous for Dogs.”

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.

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.

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.

Dr. Brady's boxer Sully

Sully and the Sunscreen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chewed bottle of sunscreen

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

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

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

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

This experience with Sully taught me a lot.

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

Wishing you all a safe summer!

German shepherd in water

Answering Your Questions About Leptospirosis

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

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.

Two retriever puppies chewing sticks

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.

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.

Black Labrador retriever in tall grass

Dogs and Heatstroke

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

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

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

Open hand comparing the size of a microchip with a grain of rice

AVMA’s Check the Chip Day

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

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

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

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

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!

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.

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

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

A mixed breed dog lying on cobblestones, showing teeth

Preventing Dog Bites

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

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

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

A blue-eyed dog dusted with snow

Cold Weather Tips

Just because our companion animals are furry doesn’t mean they don’t need extra care in extra-cold weather.

This short article on the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has some good advice about caring for pets in cold weather.

The American Veterinary Medical Association offers these suggestions.

A red dog snoozing in the sun

About Trifexis

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

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

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

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

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