Dogs

Old dog resting its head on a person wearing jeans and a gray shirt

Caring for Your Senior Pet

Senior cats and dogs make up 44% of the pet population as advances in veterinary care enable pets to live longer lives than ever before. 

If you are fortunate enough to enjoy the faithful companionship of an older pet, there are a number of ways you can enhance your caregiving to help your pet age more safely, comfortably and gracefully. 

Is Your Pet a Senior? 

Whether or not your pet has reached its senior years generally varies by species and by size.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners considers cats 10 years old and older to be seniors, but your veterinarian may begin treating your cat as a senior at an earlier age if he or she is already showing signs of aging. 

Dogs are considered seniors when they’ve reached the remaining 25% of their estimated lifespan, based on size. 

Given that smaller dogs tend to live longer than larger ones, data from the American Kennel Club suggests dogs achieve senior status according to these guidelines:

  • Small and toy breeds weighing less than 20 pounds are considered seniors at age 8 to 11 years of age.
  • Medium-sized breeds weighing 20 to 50 pounds are classified as seniors when they’re 8 to 10 years old.
  • Large breeds weighing 50 to 90 pounds achieve senior status at age 8 to 9 years.
  • Giant breeds weighing more than 90 pounds are seniors when they’re 6 to 7 years old. 

Home Care for Senior Pets

Keep your senior pet active. Although it’s natural for pets to slow down as they age, you can help them stay mobile and flexible by routinely encouraging an age-adjusted level of physical activity. Your walks together may be briefer and more leisurely, but still enjoyable.

Talk to your veterinarian about potential changes to your senior pet’s diet. You may want to transition to a food that’s easier to digest and enriched with supplements—glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, for example—considered especially beneficial for older pets. 

If your pet has been diagnosed with a chronic health condition, such as liver or kidney disease, we may recommend a prescription diet formulated to help manage the diagnosed condition.

As your pet ages, it’s more important than ever to help your pet achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Weight gain and weight loss are both concerning. 

See our posts, “Overweight, Obesity and Your Pet’s Health” and “New Year’s Resolutions for Overweight Pets” for more detailed information about evaluating your pet’s body condition and managing your pet’s weight.

Senior dogs are increasingly susceptible to dental disease, so it’s more important than ever to brush your pet’s teeth every day and have dental cleanings and exams under anesthesia when we recommend them. See our post, “Time to Focus on Your Pet’s Dental Health” for details. 

Home Comforts for Seniors

Your aging pet may benefit from changes to make your home environment more safe, comfortable and accommodating. You might consider—

  • Orthopedic pet beds
  • Raised feeding platforms
  • Food and water bowls with no-slip bottoms
  • Additional water bowls around the house
  • Pet stairs and ramps to make it easier to access favorite spots
  • Larger litter boxes with ramps or low sides 
  • Litter boxes that don’t require stair-climbing to access
  • No-slip rugs to provide better footing on slippery floors
  • Baby gates to block stairs
  • Covers over swimming pools, fire pits and window wells

Make sure your senior pet has a space where he or she can safely retreat from activities in your home. Put his or her bed against a wall or in a corner or inside a crate with the door propped open.

Veterinary Care for Seniors

No matter how well you care for your senior pet at home, with time he or she will become increasingly vulnerable to age-related health issues. 

A stepped-up schedule of regular veterinary care—even for apparently healthy pets—is essential to detecting, diagnosing and managing any of these issues that may emerge as your pet ages. 

Specifically, once your pet transitions to senior status, it’s time to double up on annual wellness exams and schedule them twice a year. 

Pets taking some medications may require even more frequent check-ups to make sure no side-effects are developing from prolonged drug use. 

When our veterinarians examine your senior pet, we follow many of the same protocols and conduct many of the same tests we have throughout your pet’s life. The difference for a senior patient is a more thorough physical examination and a more extensive blood panel, all with an eye toward detecting common conditions that come with aging. 

Vaccines continue to be important, perhaps on a modified schedule to account for older pets’ weakened immune systems. 

We depend on you more than ever to pay attention and report to us to even subtle changes in your pet’s behavior, activity levels, drinking and eating habits, and stools and urine production. 

Potential Senior Health Problems

Cancer is the leading cause of death in nearly half of dogs and about a third of cats more than 10 years old. Some common signs to watch for—

  • Lumps or bumps (which may be benign)
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Unpleasant odors coming from your pet
  • Difficulty defecating and urinating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sores that don’t heal
  • Discharge from body openings, such as the nostrils or anus

Other common health problems that come with age include:

  • Heart disease
  • Kidney or urinary tract disease
  • Liver disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Hypo- and hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Joint or bone disease
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Dental disease
  • Lipomas

Vision loss. It’s normal for pets to lose some of their vision as they age. Some seniors develop cataracts. Visually impaired pets can still get around well enough in familiar surroundings, so long as you keep your pet’s beds, food and water bowls and litter box in the same places and refrain from adding or rearranging furniture.

Hearing loss. Older pets may also lose their hearing, making it harder for them to hear you call them or come into a room. While your pet still can hear you, consider coupling some simple hand signals with your most-used commands so you can still offer guidance to a hard-of-hearing pet. 

Potential Cognitive and Behavior Changes

Canine cognitive dysfunction causes symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. Common behavior changes that come with canine cognitive dysfunction include:

  • Increased reactions to loud or strange sounds
  • Diminished response to voice commands
  • Increased barking
  • Increased aggressive or protective behavior
  • Increased anxiety
  • Apparent disorientation or confusion
  • Repeating the same actions over and over
  • Increased wandering
  • Diminished memory and learning ability
  • House soiling
  • Changed sleep patterns
  • Diminished interest in playing
  • Hiding

Cats can develop cognitive dysfunction syndrome, too. At 15 years old and older, 80% of cats show signs of cognitive dysfunction. Signs, which are similar to symptoms exhibited by dogs,  include disorientation, vocalizing—especially at night, having accidents in the house, hiding, poor grooming and sleeping more than usual. 

Watch for signs of senility or cognitive dysfunction and address them by engaging more frequently with your pet and providing mentally stimulating games, toys and puzzles. 

Arthritis. An overall reduction in your senior pet’s activity level may indicate disease—most commonly, arthritis. Your older pet may begin to avoid activities like climbing stairs, running, jumping or getting into cars. Other signs of arthritis—

  • Favoring a leg
  • Walking stiffly
  • Having trouble sitting down or standing up
  • Resisting being touched or petted
  • Playing less
  • Sleeping more
  • Showing unusual aggression toward people and other pets

Age is Not a Disease

While aging may come with its share of health and quality of life challenges, your pet’s advancing age is not a disease. 

The team at Brownsburg Animal Clinic is eager to support you and your senior pet, working side-by-side with you to achieve a longer, healthier, happier life throughout your remaining years together.

Call us at (317) 852-3323 to schedule your senior pet’s next appointment. 

Caring for Your Senior Pet Read More »

ID tag hanging from a dog's collar

Could We See Some ID?

More than 90% of lost pets who make it back home get there because of ID tags, microchips or other identification like tattoos. In observance of National Pet ID Week—April 17-23—we outline multiple ways to identify your pet.

Photographs

Have a photography session featuring your pet, taking care to capture multiple views and distinctive markings that would help a stranger recognize your pet. If you regularly have your dog’s coat trimmed, shoot photos showing how he or she looks with varying coat lengths. Include yourself in some of the photos in case you need to establish that the pet belongs to you.

Collar Tags

Keep a collar on your pet with identification tags attached at all times. Even indoor pets can easily slip through an open door or window and get lost outside. 

You may choose standard tags bearing the pet’s name and your name, address and phone number. These provide the most easily-accessible contact information to anyone who finds your lost pet. Search online for “pet ID tags” to see a full selection.

A digital tag with a quick-response (QR) code is a relatively new, surprisingly inexpensive pet ID option that allows you—usually at no additional cost—to register multiple contacts and detailed information about your pet, including photographs and medical data. If someone finds your pet, they can scan the QR code with a smart phone to access all your pet’s information. An online search for “digital pet id tags” will generate multiple options.

Most lost pets with an up-to-date ID tag are returned home within a few hours.

GPS Tracking Collars

A number of Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking collars and tags are now available to allow you to track your pet’s location using your cell phone.

This comprehensive article from PC Magazine, “The Best Pet Trackers and GPS Dog Collars for 2024” identifies, ranks and reviews a half-dozen products, weighing pros and cons of each and offering a buying guide to help you choose the best one for your pet. 

Microchips

In addition to external collar tags, we recommend having us implant a microchip to identify your pet even if its collar falls off or is removed. Nearly all shelters and veterinary hospitals—including ours—have scanners that can detect and read the microchip’s registration number. Assuming you’ve registered and kept your contact information up-to-date, a microchip can improve the likelihood your pet will make it back home by 50%.

How We Can Help

If you pet hasn’t yet had a microchip implanted, call the office to schedule an appointment. If your pet is scheduled for any procedure requiring anesthesia, such as neutering or a dental cleaning, you may prefer to have the chip implanted then. 

If your pet already has a microchip, we can scan for it during your next clinic visit to make sure it’s still in place and readable. 

Could We See Some ID? Read More »

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 Pekingese, is usually more likely to have serious problems with heat than a breed with a longer muzzle.

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

Caring for Your Canine Athlete 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 »

Dog and cat sitting side-by-side

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

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

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

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

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

How Often is Often Enough?

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

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

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

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

What to Expect at a Wellness Check-Up

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

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

Typical Tests

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

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

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

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

Vaccines and Parasite Preventives

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

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

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

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

More Wellness Exam Topics for Discussion

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

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

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

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

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

Preparing for Your Pet’s Next Wellness Check-Up

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

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

A Special Note for Our Cat-Owning Clients

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

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

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

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

Your Best Investment in Your Pet’s Health

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

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

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

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

Building Personal Relationships One Exam at a Time

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

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

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

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

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

Starting Here, Starting Now

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

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

We look forward to seeing you and your pet soon!

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

Puppy and kitten

When to Spay or Neuter? It’s Complicated.

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

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

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

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

The Benefits of Spay/Neuter

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

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

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

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

Many people believe spaying and neutering makes pets better companions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Advice

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

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

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

Additional Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gloved hands pulling back a dogs upper lip to examine teeth

Time to Focus on Your Pet’s Dental Health

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

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

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

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

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

How Your Veterinary Team Can Help

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How You Can Help

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Common, Preventable Disease

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

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

We can do better! 

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

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

Woman's hands offering attentive dog a treat while training

Training the LIMA Way

January is National Train Your Dog Month, sponsored by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT). 

National Train Your Dog Month logo

The association has a website dedicated to the event and filled with free resources to help you train and care for your dog. On the home page, you’ll find links to several episodes of Speak!, ADPT’s podcast for pet owners. Below the podcast section, you’ll find links to videos offering a range of training tips as well as more general advice on dog care. 

The Tips tab takes you to a page linking to 11 informative training-related handouts—all downloadable as free PDFs.

The Resources tab takes you to a collection of blog posts on the Association of Professional Dog Trainers’ main website. The posts are of interest to trainers as well as pet owners. To narrow your selection, choose the most relevant category listed at the top of the page.

Training the LIMA Way

If you browse the APDT site further, you can learn about LIMA—the Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive training technique sanctioned by the organization. 

According to the APDT position statement on LIMA, “LIMA requires that trainers and behavior consultants use the ‘least intrusive, minimally aversive technique likely to succeed in achieving a training [or behavior change] objective with minimal risk of producing adverse side effects.’”

In elaborating further, the association “takes the stance that there are no training or behavior cases which justify the use of intentional aversive punishment-based interventions in any form of training ranging from general obedience and tricks to dealing with severe behavior problems. This is in agreement with the American Veterinary Society for Animal Behavior and available literature. 

“Trainers who use aversive tools such as choke collars, prong collars, shock collars (including ‘stim-collars’ and ‘e-collars’), bonkers, shaker-cans, citronella spray, water spray, leash-pop/leash-corrections (with any type of collar/harness), yelling, or any other technique designed to cause fear, pain, or startle in the dog are not practicing LIMA as described and used within APDT. 

“Trainers who are unable to train a specific behavior or to a specific outcome without resorting to aversive techniques should use resources such as the APDT community pages to contact and work with trainers who do.”

As of 2021, APDT has required its members to certify they will follow LIMA principles. The Brownsburg Animal Clinic team wholeheartedly supports this approach to training.

Whether you train at home on your own or choose to work with a professional trainer or behavior consultant individually or in a class, we recommend you learn to train the LIMA way. Before hiring a trainer or signing up for a class, ask if they use any of the aversive “old school” tools and techniques named above and if they do, keep looking until you find a more progressive, enlightened professional.

Take a Class

Our friends at Misty Eyes Animal Center in Avon offer training classes based on positive reinforcement principles. Here’s what they have to say about their approach to training: 

“We understand the history and use of punishments in training; however, science has proven positive reinforcement is more effective in every meaningful dimension. Positive reinforcement teaching techniques use non-confrontational methods of training to work a dog’s brain. The focus is on rewarding positive behavior, establishing rituals and training actions that are incompatible with negative behavior—lessening a dog’s anger and frustration while enabling the dog to feel good inside. If you reinforce a dog’s desirable behaviors, there is less of a chance that he/she will indulge in other undesirable behaviors. Decision-making is influenced without use of force, all while strengthening the trust between owner and dog through this non-threatening treatment.”

Misty Eyes course offerings include—

  • STAR Puppy Class for puppies 8 to 20 weeks old
  • K-9 Good Manners for dogs six months old and older
  • AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) and Therapy Dog training class to prepare dogs six months old and older for CGC certification
  • AKC Trick Dog class for dogs six months old and older with previous training or completion of the K-9 Good Manners class 

For more information about classes at Misty Eyes Animal Center, visit the training page of their website

Let Us Help!

As always, our veterinarians are happy to answer questions and offer guidance about behavior problems and anxiety-related issues your dog may be experiencing. 

If you need more specialized help, we may refer you to Veterinary Behavior of Indiana.

With a sound, positive approach to training your dog, you can vastly improve your dog’s and your own quality of life, build a closer bond and have fun while you’re doing it! We wish you success!

Training the LIMA Way Read More »

Large cat

New Year’s Resolutions for Overweight Pets

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

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

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

We’re Here to Help!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resolved?

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

New Year’s Resolutions for Overweight Pets Read More »

Dog with snow on its face

Keeping Your Pet Safe in Cold Weather

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cold Weather Questions?

The Brownsburg Animal Clinic team has answers!

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

Keeping Your Pet Safe in Cold Weather Read More »

Dog wearing Santa cap

Pets as Christmas Gifts

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

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

And research backs us up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pets as Christmas Gifts Read More »

Cat with Christmas gifts

Holiday Gifts for Pets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gift Ideas

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

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

What’s Under Your Tree?

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

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

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

Happy holidays from the Brownsburg Animal Clinic family to yours!

Holiday Gifts for Pets Read More »

Two dogs chewing on a stick

Celebrating National Mutt Day

Brownsburg Animal Clinic invites you to join us in celebrating National Mutt Day—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 every day a special day 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-through—anything you know your mutt loves (within reason!) will be a great way to celebrate twice-yearly National Mutt Day year-round.

Celebrating National Mutt Day Read More »

Painting showing the first Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Safety for Pets

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

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

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

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

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

Food Safety Specifics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Holiday Hazards of Guests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Travel Safety

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

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

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

Helpful Holiday Contacts

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

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

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

Thanksgiving Safety for Pets Read More »

Pug dog with two other dogs in the background

National Diabetes Month

November is National Diabetes Month.

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

Signs Your Pet May Have Diabetes

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

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

To Find Out More About Diabetes in Dogs and Cats

AVMA graphic listing signs of diabetes in pets

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

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

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

We’re Here to Help

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

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

National Diabetes Month Read More »

Cat and dog relaxing together on the floor

Pet Wellness: A Year-Round Priority

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

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

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

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

Preventive Care

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

The topics we covered:

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

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

Overweight and Obesity

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

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

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

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

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

If we see it, we have to say it. 

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

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

Safety Concerns

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

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

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

We’re in This Together!

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

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

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

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

Pet Wellness: A Year-Round Priority Read More »

Chihuahua dressed as a witch for Halloween

Halloween Safety for Pets

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

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

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

Don’t Share the Treats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep Decorations Out of Reach

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

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

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

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

Mind the Costumes

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

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

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

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

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

Recognize the Dangers of Trick or Treating

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Halloween Safety for Pets Read More »

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, we encourage you to revisit our recent post, “Is Owning a Dog Good for Your Health?” in which we explored the many scientifically-backed benefits of dog ownership.

For more general 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.

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.

Where to Find Adoptable Dogs

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

See our post about our county shelter in which we interviewed LaDonna Hughes, chief animal control officer and Hendricks County Animal Shelter manager, and Cherie Fox, co-founder, board president and director of animal operations for Misty Eyes.

Visit the animal shelter’s Facebook page or Misty Eyes Animal Center’s Adoptable Animals page to see a sampling of animals available for adoption. (Scroll down to see Misty Eyes’s adoptable dogs.)

To meet available shelter dogs in person, visit The Hendricks County Animal Shelter in Danville at 250 East Campus Boulevard. The phone number is (317) 745-9250. The shelter is open to the public six days a week.

  • Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Thursdays 12 noon to 6 p.m.
  • Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The shelter is closed on Sundays and holidays and in inclement weather.

Misty Eyes Animal Center is at 616 Country Road 800 in Avon. While its facilities are under construction, all available dogs are living in foster homes. As explained on the “Adoption Process” page on the Misty Eyes website, selected pets can be seen in person at the center on weekends. If you are interested in meeting a particular dog pictured online in person at the center, call (317) 858-8022 to arrange an appointment.

If you are looking to rescue a dog of a particular breed, we recommend the American Kennel Club’s Rescue Network. Nearly all national breed clubs maintain regional rescue operations staffed by volunteers dedicated to the good of their breed.

We’re Here for You and Your Newly-Adopted Dog

As far as the Brownsburg Animal Clinic team is concerned, any month is a good month to adopt a shelter or rescue dog, provided you are fully prepared and committed to be a responsible dog owner.

See our post, “Are You a Responsible Dog Owner?” for details of what responsible dog ownership entails.

Typically, shelter and rescue dogs have been vaccinated, spayed or neutered, tested and if necessary, treated for parasites, and microchipped before being released to their adoptive homes. Once you’ve adopted your dog, we recommend scheduling a wellness exam with us at your earliest convenience so we can confirm your dog’s good health and establish a custom veterinary care plan for this new addition to your family.

With your newly-adopted dog established as our patient, you can count on us to be here for both of you, providing the comprehensive primary medical care you need to promote a long, healthy, happy life.

Adopt-A-Dog Month® Read More »

Two dogs standing side-by-side, with the smaller one looking up to the larger one

Are You a Responsible Dog Owner?

Don’t Let Your Dog Down

You aren’t a dog owner just at Christmas, or on the weekends, or in the afternoon, or when you have spare time. You aren’t a dog owner just when the dog is behaving, or when he’s a cute fuzzy puppy, or when he’s winning awards. When you bring a dog into your family, that dog is yours for life. If you can’t keep that commitment, don’t make it. And once you’ve made it, don’t break it. Your dog’s life depends on you.

Tips for Responsible Dog Owners
The American Kennel Club

That one paragraph from a 45-page ebook published by The American Kennel Club (AKC) captures what we at Brownsburg Animal Clinic see as the essence of responsible dog ownership. 

It’s all about commitment. For life. 

The AKC has designated September as Responsible Dog Ownership Month. Their “Tips for Responsible Dog Owners” ebook provides an overview of multiple aspects of being a responsible dog owner, beginning well before you bring the dog you’ve chosen into your household.

We’re guessing if you’re following our blog, it’s likely you’re a client of ours who already owns one or more dogs—maybe even some cats, too. 

The question is, are you a responsible dog owner? 

If you go by the AKC’s ebook, you’ll see responsible dog ownership is…complicated. In addition to all the basics of owning any dog, the AKC includes a number of activities specific to the world of purebred dogs. 

We believe responsible dog ownership is somewhat simpler than the AKC might have you believe—especially if you have no plans to train and show a purebred dog competitively. 

In our opinion, the essential elements of responsible dog ownership include—

  • Good nutrition to keep your dog’s body weight under control, with a constant supply of fresh, clean water
  • Safety at home, in your yard, your car, and away from home, with a microchip and an ID tag to help your pet get back home if he or she gets lost
  • Creature comforts—a crate, a dog bed, toys, treats
  • Regular grooming to keep your dog’s coat, nails and ears in good condition 
  • Daily tooth-brushing to prevent gum disease and tooth decay
  • Daily exercise appropriate to your dog’s age and physical condition
  • Social interaction and mental stimulation from playing games together, taking walks, training and socializing
  • Observance of all animal-related ordinances and the common courtesy to clean up after your dog and control barking, roaming the neighborhood and other behaviors that might disturb other people
  • Helping manage pet overpopulation by spaying or neutering any pet not intended as breeding stock
  • Including your pet in family emergency plans and arranging in advance for pet care, should you be unable to care for your pet yourself
  • Ongoing veterinary care on schedule, as we recommend it, including wellness exams, vaccines, regular parasite preventives and prompt attention to any health problems that occur
  • Love

Advice from the AVMA

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) lists “Guidelines for responsible pet ownership” including advice for responsibly owning all sorts of indoor and outdoor pets. 

The list shares much in common with the AKC’s, with one additional aspect of responsible pet ownership we find worth calling out.

A common complaint we hear at the clinic comes from owners of multiple pets who say our prices are prohibitive “for three dogs” or “for five cats.” Or more. 

Among its guidelines, the AVMA includes, “Keeping only the type and number of pets for which you can provide an appropriate and safe environment. This includes appropriate food, water, shelter, health care and companionship.” 

We greatly appreciate clients willing to provide loving homes to multiple pets, but the total costs of keeping just one pet can be substantial. See our post, “The Costs of Owning a Pet,” and do the math. 

When your heart goes out to every animal in need of a home, it’s easy to forget: For every pet you add to your household, your financial responsibilities increase. Despite your love of animals and the large number of homeless pets right here in our community, if you struggle to afford feeding and caring for your pets, part of being a responsible pet owner requires you to set limits. 

Don’t take in any more pets than you can afford to care for comfortably.

See the AVMA’s entire list of guidelines to look for more opportunities to become an even better, more responsible pet owner.

Owning a pet is a privilege that brings us great rewards. Because our pets can’t speak for themselves, we each take on a responsibility as owners to advocate for them and provide the support and resources they need to live healthy, happy lives.

Pet Ownership
The American Veterinary Medical Association

Another article from the AVMA, “Pet ownership” offers additional thoughts on the responsibilities of pet ownership in a somewhat more readable format than their guidelines list. 

More Resources from the AKC Owner’s Manual Series

Tips for Responsible Dog Owners” is just one in a series of free ebooks published as part of an “Owner’s Manual Series” by the AKC. 

As you consider your role as a responsible dog (or pet) owner—not just during Responsible Pet Ownership Month but year-round, we encourage you to browse the following titles from the AKC and download any of interest. Most are no more than 14 to 18 pages long with very readable text, beautiful photographs and lots of white space. 

Bear in mind the American Kennel Club is dedicated to supporting and promoting purebred dogs. Most if not all the information in the ebooks we’ve selected applies just as well to mixed-breed dogs as purebreds and will almost certainly help you in fulfilling your responsibilities as a dog owner.

Emergency First Aid for Dogs

Puppy Pointers: Tips for Selecting a Canine Companion

Puppy Food & Nutrition

Crate Training

Puppy Socialization

Life with a Senior Canine Citizen

Canine Body Language: Your Dog is Trying to Tell You Something

Why Does My Dog Do That?

What’s He Thinking? The reasons behind your dog’s most interesting habits

The Five Commands Every Dog Should Know

Five Tricks You’ll Want To Show Off

Let Us Help!

No list of guidelines for responsible pet ownership is complete without veterinary care.

The veterinarians and staff of Brownsburg Animal Clinic consider it an honor and a privilege to help you fulfill your responsibilities to your pet. Call us at (317) 852-3323 to see when your pet’s next check-up and/or vaccines are due.

Are You a Responsible Dog Owner? Read More »

Kitten and puppy

Essential Vaccines to Protect Your Pet

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

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

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

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

The AVMA offers these five reasons to vaccinate your pet:

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

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

The Best Preventive Care You Can Provide

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

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

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

Core Vaccines and More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Do Vaccines Really Work?

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

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

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

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

Yes, There Can Be Side-Effects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Welcome Your Questions

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

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

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

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

Essential Vaccines to Protect Your Pet Read More »

Silhouette of a woman with two dogs by water

Is Owning a Dog Good for Your Health?

We’ve all heard and read news stories affirming the health benefits of dog ownership. Here’s a one-minute video that humorously sums up prevailing beliefs about the positive impact of dog ownership on human health.

The “Prescription Dog” video is from The Pet Effect campaign of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI). Founded by animal health company Zoetis, HABRI is a non-profit research and education organization that gathers, funds and shares scientific research demonstrating health benefits of companion animals. Visit the HABRI website for highlights of pet-related research on human health.

This video from Insider Science, “What Having a Dog Does To Your Brain and Body,” features Meg Olmert, author of Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond.

Olmert’s commentary helps explain our physiological response to our dogs. 

How Dogs Benefit Our Health

An article from the American Kennel Club, “10 Science-Based Benefits of Having a Dog,” lists these benefits:

  1. Dogs make us feel less alone.
  2. Dogs are good for your heart.
  3. Dogs help you stop stressing out.
  4. Dogs help us cope with crisis.
  5. Dogs encourage you to move.
  6. Dogs make you more attractive—even virtually.
  7. Dogs make us more social.
  8. Dogs are so adorable they make us love them.
  9. Dogs make us happier.
  10. Dogs help seniors with cognitive function and social interaction.

Read the AKC article to learn more about the science behind these assertions.

In a blog post from pharmacy savings card marketer SingleCare, “9 health benefits of owning a dog,” the listed benefits include:

  1. Dogs help you stay active.
  2. Dogs can help reduce risk of heart attack and heart disease.
  3. Dogs can help reduce triglyceride levels.
  4. Dogs can help reduce cholesterol levels.
  5. Dogs can help lower blood pressure levels naturally.
  6. Dogs can help lower stress levels.
  7. Dogs can help fight loneliness.
  8. Service dogs can save lives and help people live more independently.
  9. Dogs can help bolster your microbiome.

See the SingleCare blog post for details on each of these nine points and the research supporting them.

Mixed Results?

Despite so much scientific research supporting the idea that dog ownership is good for your health, there have been studies suggesting the opposite. Some studies have found no difference between the health of people who do and do not own pets. 

In a CNN article, “The benefits of owning a dog—and the surprising science behind it,” psychologist Harold Herzog, a Western Carolina University professor who studies the human-animal connection, noted there are studies that indicate pet owners “are more likely to be lonely, depressed and have panic attacks, more likely to have asthma, obesity, high blood pressure, gastric ulcers, migraine headaches, and use more medicine, et cetera.”

Quoted in the same article, Co-Director of the Tufts Institute for Human-Animal Interaction Megan Mueller said, “A lot of us who have pets think, ‘Oh, they must be uniformly good for us.’ We’re finding is it is a little bit more complicated than we originally thought.

”I always say that it’s not a great question: ‘Are our pets good for us?’ It’s who are pets good for, under what circumstances, and is it the right match between the person and the pet?”

Are You and Your Dog a Match?

While the CNN article says, “Research in this area is booming,” those of us who already own and love our dogs are free to enjoy and benefit from their companionship now, regardless of what researchers report. 

Our advice is to make the most of your relationship with your dog. Focus on cultivating mutual love and loyalty, provide good care and most important of all, have fun!

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

Hands holding stethoscope against small puppy

Preventive Care for Better Health and Lower Costs

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

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

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

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

Wellness Exams

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

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

Vaccinations

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

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

Deworming

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

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

Heartworm and Flea and Tick Preventives 

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

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

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

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

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

Spaying and Neutering

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

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

Nutrition

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

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

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

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

Exercise

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

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

Dental Care

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

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

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

Let Us Customize Your Pet’s Preventive Care Plan

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

Preventive Care for Better Health and Lower Costs Read More »

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Most and Least Expensive Dog Breeds

In this post, we consider two aspects of expense for owning various dog breeds as pets—acquisition cost and estimated total cost of ownership over the expected lifespan of the dog. 

The figures we’ve included are wide-ranging and perhaps not completely reliable. Click the links back to the source articles to decide for yourself.

Keep in mind, regardless of the reliability of the numbers, the estimated average expenses presented here for buying and caring for dogs of a particular breed may or may not apply to individual dogs. 

The goal of our post is to provide an overview of typical costs of acquiring dogs of various breeds and help you understand health risks by exploring known health issues for the breeds you’re considering. With this information, particularly if the cost of pet ownership is an issue, you can improve your odds of spending less by choosing a breed likely to be more affordable. 

What Makes a Dog Breed Expensive to Buy?

Many variables influence pricing of purebred dogs, and most breeds have a going rate range in the marketplace based on popularity, availability and breeding costs.

On a practical level, prices reflect the breeder’s out-of-pocket costs for the litter, and reputable breeders typically invest substantially more in their litters than do puppy mills and backyard breeders. In addition to food and supplies, medical exams, vaccines and deworming expenses that are typically incurred by all puppies, there could be additional expenses such as stud fees, artificial insemination costs and breed-specific genetic screening tests for the breeding stock chosen to produce a purebred litter.

At least among dog show enthusiasts, purebred pricing is influenced by the breeder’s prestige and record of producing multiple generations of winning dogs. Dogs with impressive pedigrees from leading kennels command higher prices than dogs from less prominent breeders and those not involved in competitive showing. 

The most popular dog breeds are, naturally, most likely to be the most readily available, possibly—but not necessarily—at relatively affordable prices, compared with less popular and more obscure breeds. Labrador Retrievers, French Bulldogs, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs and Poodles are likely in greater supply and perhaps more affordable than Norwegian Lundehunds, English and American Foxhounds, Belgian Laekenois and Sloughis.

For any breed, the laws of supply and demand can impact pricing and availability if a breed experiences a sudden surge of popularity because of media exposure. 

Most Expensive Dog Breeds to Buy

One website we found in our research listed “20 Most Expensive Dog Breeds That Are Worth Every Penny.” The list, ordered from least to most expensive to buy, includes breeds with average estimated initial costs of $2,200 to $3,500. 

The 20 breeds, listed in order of estimated average acquisition costs, include:

  • Portuguese Water Dog $2,200
  • Chow Chow $2,250
  • Afghan Hound $2,250
  • Brussels Griffon $2,300
  • Saluki $2,400
  • Leonberger $2,400
  • Greater Swiss Mountain Dog $2,500
  • English Bulldog $2,500
  • English Toy Spaniel $2,500
  • Giant Schnauzer $2,500
  • Miniature Bull Terrier $2,500
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever $2,500
  • Azawakh $2,500
  • Tibetan Mastiff $2,500
  • Xoloitzcuintli $2,750
  • German Pinscher $2,800
  • French Bulldog $2,800
  • Norfolk Terrier $3,250
  • Norwich Terrier $3,500
  • Neapolitan Mastiff $3,500

Besides estimated average purchase price, the article presents photographs and additional data on each of the 20 breeds, including typical height and weight ranges, personality, activity level, grooming requirements, life expectancy and average lifetime costs ranging from $14,000 to $34,000, along with summary descriptions of breed highlights. 

GoBankingRates published a list of 28 most expensive dog breeds, based on estimated purchase price range, projected grooming expenses, average lifespan and potential healthcare costs for common issues faced by each breed. 

Here are the 28 breeds, with estimated purchase price ranges: 

  • Akita $1,000 to $2,500
  • Alaskan Malamute $1,200 to $2,000
  • Bernese Mountain Dog $1,500 to $3,000
  • Black Russian Terrier $1,000 to $2,500
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel $1,500 to $2,500
  • Chow Chow $1,200 and $2,000
  • Dogo Argentino $1,500 to $2,500
  • English Bulldog $2,000 and $4,000
  • French Bulldog $2,000 and $4,000
  • German Shepherd $800 to $2,000
  • Golden Retriever $1,000 to $2,000
  • Great Dane $1,000 to $2,000
  • Ibizan Hound $2,000 to $2,500
  • Irish Wolfhound $1,500 to $2,500
  • Kerry Blue Terrier $2,000 to $2,500
  • Lakeland Terrier $1,500 to $2,800
  • Miniature Bull Terrier $2,500 to $3,500
  • Newfoundland $1,700 to $2,500
  • Old English Sheepdog $1,800 to $3,000
  • Pharaoh Hound $1,800 to $2,500
  • Portuguese Water Dog $2,000 to $3,000
  • Rottweiler $1,200 to $2,000
  • Saint Bernard $1,000 to $2,000
  • Samoyed $1,500 to $3,000
  • Spinone Italiano $1,200 to $2,000
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier $1,500 to $2,500
  • Tibetan Mastiff $2,500 to $4,000
  • Yorkshire Terrier $1,500 to $3,000

See the article for brief summaries of each breed.

Are Purebreds More Expensive Than Crossbred Dogs?

We define a purebred dog as the product of mating two dogs of the same breed. We define a crossbreed (also known as a hybrid) as resulting from a deliberate mating of two different-breed purebred dogs, such as a Cockapoo from mating a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle, a Labradoodle from a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle or a Puggle from a Pug and Beagle mating. Technically, these are mixed-breed dogs, but in this article, when we refer to mixed-breed dogs, we’re talking about dogs of diverse parentage that most likely was not deliberately selected.

Are purebreds more expensive than crossbreds? In terms of purchase price, it appears the answer is yes.

An article at Worldofdogz.com compared purchase prices for popular purebred and crossbred dogs, demonstrating that purebreds are indeed more expensive than crossbred dogs to buy. 

  • The article listed these estimated price ranges for popular purebred dog breeds:
  • Labrador Retriever $650 to $4,000
  • French Bulldog $3,000 to $10,000
  • Golden Retriever $750 to $5,000
  • German Shepherd $300 to $3,200
  • Standard Poodle $300 to $3,000

Average purebred price $1,000 to $5,040

For comparison, the article listed these estimated purchase prices for popular crossbred dogs:

  • Cockapoo $800 to $3,200
  • Labradoodle $151 to $2,000
  • Goldendoodle $750 to $2,900
  • Puggle $250 to $3,665
  • Shepadoodle $350 to $3,000

Average $460 to $2,953

As these numbers illustrate, the crossbreds—while still potentially somewhat pricey—tend on average to be priced more affordably than purebreds. 

Alternatives to Buying From a Breeder

As an alternative to buying a purebred dog from a breeder, consider adopting a purebred rescue or shelter dog.

Most dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club are available for adoption through the AKC Rescue Network. Locations, availability and adoption fees vary, but procuring your purebred dog through the rescue network can be a lower-cost and more satisfying alternative to buying from a breeder.

About 25 to 30% of shelter dogs are purebreds, so with patience and persistence, you may find a dog of the breed you’ve chosen at the Hendricks County Animal Shelter or Misty Eyes Animal Center.

As you plan your budget, keep in mind adoptable rescue and shelter pets have most likely already been spayed or neutered, fitted with a microchip, vaccinated, dewormed, started on parasite prevention and treated for at least the most urgent health and behavior problems presented when they arrived at the rescue organization or shelter. These initial expenses are usually covered by the adoption fee.

What Makes a Dog Breed Expensive to Care For?

When you choose a purebred dog, you have a good idea of its size at adulthood. As a general rule, the larger the dog, the greater the expense for feeding, equipping, grooming, boarding, insuring and providing veterinary care. 

Because they are more likely to be inbred from relatively small populations, some purebred and crossbred dog breeds may be at greater risk than mixed-breed dogs for developing particular heritable health conditions. These conditions, which can be debilitating for the dog, heartbreaking for you and costly to treat, are generally well-documented for the various breeds and should be a central focus of your breed research. 

For example, as a group, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are known to be more prone than average to develop heart disease. German Shepherds have more than their share of canine degenerative myelopathy. Dachshunds have relatively more spinal issues. Boxers have an above-average incidence of cancer. 

While the most reputable breeders select to improve health by screening breeding stock and attempting to eliminate defective genes, some breeders either carelessly or unknowingly disregard such considerations, and some may even select problematic traits on purpose. Bulldogs and Pugs often experience respiratory difficulties because they’re deliberately bred for their short, flat faces. German Shepherds selected for their sloping backs tend to have more hip dysplasia. Shar-Peis selectively bred for their skin folds often suffer from chronic skin infections. Such breed-specific health risks can result in higher veterinary care costs. 

Health Insurance Claims by Breed

One indicator of the cost of care for dogs of various breeds is claims paid by pet health insurers. For example, based on claims filed in 2020, Embrace Pet Insurance reported the five breeds with the highest vet bills were Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Flat-Coated Retrievers, Bullmastiffs and Newfoundlands.

On a more detailed short list of dogs with the highest average insurance claims, Rottweilers placed first with an average claim amount of $567.53, followed by Bernese Mountain Dogs with average claims of $412.85, Great Danes at $385.49, English Bulldogs at $370.57 and French Bulldogs at $355.63.

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

  • Greater Swiss Mountain Dog $425
  • Rottweiler $401
  • Dogue de Bordeaux $395
  • Cane Corso $386
  • American Bulldog $376
  • Irish Wolfhound $375
  • American Staffordshire Terrier $373
  • Mixed Extra Large Breeds (111 Lbs +) $368
  • Bernese Mountain Dog $367
  • Bull Mastiff $366

The dog breeds identified with the lowest average pet insurance claims are actually crossbreds including the Australian Labradoodle at $226, followed by the Miniature Goldendoodle at $230 and the Shichon at $241.

Bear in mind, these figures reflect individual claims amounts—not the total vet bills which would typically include the owner’s deductible and typical 20-30% share of the cost. 

Projected Lifetime Costs of Ownership

Marketwatch.com’s “Most and Least Expensive Dog Breeds” lists these five breeds (including two crossbreeds) as having the highest total estimated ownership costs:

  • Giant Schnauzer $34,410 over a 14-year lifespan
  • Goldendoodle $32,675 over 13 years
  • Tibetan Mastiff $32,485 over 11 years
  • Black Russian Terrier $30,200 over 11 years
  • Labradoodle $29,475 over 13 years

Many additional details about costs of ownership for each breed and crossbreed are included in the article.

Least Expensive Dog Breeds

A 2021 article published on Yahoo’s finance site listed these 30 least expensive dog breeds and their estimated average purchase prices:

  • Manchester Terrier $600
  • Schipperke $650
  • Irish Terrier $650
  • German Wirehaired Pointer $700
  • Border Collie $525
  • Beagle $650
  • Australian Terrier $550
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi $550
  • Otterhound $550
  • Dalmatian $700
  • Chihuahua $650
  • Cesky Terrier $400
  • Field Spaniel $550
  • Redbone Coonhound $650
  • American Pit Bull Terrier $600
  • Pekingese $500
  • Bichon Frise $525
  • Affenpinscher $400
  • Dachshund $500
  • Papillon $400
  • Pug $350
  • English Setter $350
  • Treeing Walker Coonhound $500
  • Miniature Pinscher $500
  • American Foxhound $475
  • Parson Russell Terrier $400
  • Plott Hound $275
  • Black and Tan Coonhound $350
  • Rat Terrier $350
  • Harrier $300

Visit the article to see photographs and find additional details about life expectancy, potential ailments and estimated healthcare and grooming costs for each of the 30 breeds.

In an article on Marketwatch.com, these are listed as the five least expensive dog breeds based on estimated total costs over the lifetime of the dog: 

  • Japanese Chin $13,695 over 11 years
  • Boston Terrier $14,620 over 12 years
  • English Toy Spaniel $14,980 over 11 years
  • Toy Fox Terrier $15,255 over 14 years
  • Jack Russell Terrier $15,405 over 13 years 

See the article for more cost of ownership details for each of the five least expensive breeds.

Our Observations

  • As noted in a previous post, the lifetime costs of owning any dog can easily amount to tens of thousands of dollars. All dogs, from the most to least expensive, need nutritious food, exercise, training, basic equipment like crates and leashes and a safe, secure environment in which to live. All dogs also need ongoing veterinary care including regular medical exams, vaccinations and parasite preventives and diagnosis and treatment of any illnesses and injuries along the way. Supplying the essentials for whatever dog you choose costs money.
  • While many genetic diseases are more common in purebreds, any dog—purebred, crossbred or mixed breed—can inherit genetic diseases that disable the dog, upset you and your family and require possibly extensive, expensive veterinary care.  
  • Maladies associated with a particular breed will typically manifest in only a percentage of the dogs, perhaps with a higher prevalence in some bloodlines. All German Shepherds won’t necessarily develop hip dysplasia. All dogs of the Belgian breeds will not develop epilepsy. All Flat Coated Retrievers will not have cancer. 
  • No amount of research can predict the health outcomes of an individual dog you acquire. Doing research to determine common health problems prevalent in a particular breed will help you understand the risks associated with owning a dog of that breed, but there are no guarantees that any individual dog—purebred, crossbred or mixed-breed—will or will not experience a genetic disorder during its lifetime. 
  • Any dog can suffer ill health if not fed, kept safe and cared for properly. Besides providing basic food and shelter, seeking timely ongoing preventive care by our veterinarians is your best strategy for helping control the total cost of veterinary care and improving the quality of life for your dog and yourself over your dog’s lifetime.  

For more information about dog breeds, visit the American Kennel Club website. Since 1884, the AKC has been registering dog breeds, keeping track of pedigrees and working with breed clubs, local kennel clubs and obedience clubs to organize dog shows year-round throughout the country. Of the 340 dog breeds known throughout the world, the AKC currently recognizes 199 breeds.

Most and Least Expensive Dog Breeds Read More »

2022 Word Rabies Day logo

World Rabies Day

September 28 is World Rabies Day.

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

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

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

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

Visit the Indiana state website for additional information about rabies.

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

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

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

World Rabies Day Read More »

Screen shot of WebMD's Fetch website home page

WebMD for Pet Health

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

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

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

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

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

WebMD for Pet Health Read More »

Hand holding a cutaway model of a dog's ear

The Ears Have It

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

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

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

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

The Ears Have It Read More »

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.

Ian Dunbar on Dog-Friendly Dog Training Read More »

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.

Hugs May Be Stressful for Dogs Read More »

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.

Reduce the Risk of Dog Bites Read More »

Assorted capsules and pills for humans

Medicines for Humans Can Be Dangerous for Pets

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

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

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

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

For a top-ten list of medicines for humans and their damaging effects on pets, visit the Pet Poison Helpline.

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

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

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

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

Medicines for Humans Can Be Dangerous for Pets Read More »

Fireworks display

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

The manufacturer of Sileo, a drug we prescribe to treat noise aversion, 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.

Managing Your Pet’s Noise Anxiety Read More »

Fireworks display

Are You Ready for July 4?

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

Fireworks are Noisy!

While most humans enjoy the lights and sounds of a fireworks display, many pets experience the noise as unnerving or even terrorizing.

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

Order Anti-Anxiety Refills Now

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

Fireworks Can Burn!

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

Fireworks Can Be Swallowed!

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

Are You Ready?

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

Are You Ready for July 4? Read More »

Timea H. Brady, DVM, and her dogs

Summer Safety Tips

June 21 marks the beginning of summer.

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

Summer Safety Tips Read More »

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.

Choosing Your Next Dog Read More »

Dead mosquito

Heartworm Prevention is a Year-Round Commitment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heartworm Prevention is a Year-Round Commitment Read More »

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.”

Protect Your Dog from Xylitol Poisoning Read More »

Six St. Bernards lying in the grass

Emergency and Specialty Referrals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emergency and Specialty Referrals Read More »

CPRLab

Dr. Brady Certified in CPR for Pets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Veterinary CPR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the RECOVER Initiative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Brady Certified in CPR for Pets 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 »

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!

Sully and the Sunscreen Read More »

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.

Answering Your Questions About Leptospirosis Read More »

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.

Cal’s Dental Procedure Read More »

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.

Diabetes Read More »

Dog in red sweater with autumn leaves in background

Year-Round Protection

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

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

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

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

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A mixed-breed dog belonging to Dr. Brady

World Rabies Day

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

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

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

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

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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.

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Microchip and grain of rice to show relative size

AVMA’s Check the Chip Day

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

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

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

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An alert Weimaraner

Heartworm Season is Here

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

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

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

If you have questions, please call the clinic at (317) 852-3323 and we will be happy to help you keep your pet happy and heartworm-free!

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Three dogs running across a field

National Heat Awareness Day

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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