General Interest

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.

Older woman with yellow Labrador retriever

‘Make A Wag’ Helps Elderly Clients and Their Pets

Jeff Sutarik, DVM with a brown dog
Jeff Sutarik, DVM

I recently returned to the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine campus for a conference. There I met the mother of one of my Purdue vet school classmates, Jeff Sutarik, DVM. 

The Class of 2005 was hit hard back in Fall 2019 when we learned Jeff had died unexpectedly. 

During his 15 years in practice, Jeff had become passionate about helping aging pet owners care for their pets. To honor his memory, his family founded Make A Wag—a charitable organization that helps elderly pet owners of limited means pay for unexpected and/or emergency veterinary care for their pets. 

At the conference, Jeff’s mom asked any of us with our own clinics if we would help spread the word about Make A Wag. Of course, as owner of Brownsburg Animal Clinic, I am happy to oblige.

How Make A Wag Works

Make A Wag logo

Make A Wag reimburses veterinarians and veterinary clinics to cover the costs of unexpected and/or emergency care for pets whose owners are 65 years old or older and of limited financial means. 

A veterinarian fills out the Make A Wag application and supplies documentation to request reimbursement of expenses already incurred. 

Clinics with multiple veterinarians can apply multiple times, but each veterinarian is limited to a maximum reimbursement of $2,500 per calendar year to cover costs of veterinary care for one or more elderly clients’ pets.

Make A Wag distributes funds directly to the veterinarian or clinic making the application. The veterinarian then reimburses the client or credits his or her clinic account for the amount of the Make A Wag grant.

If You Need Help

If you are 65 years old or older and struggling to pay for your pet’s veterinary care, talk to your veterinarian about applying for reimbursement from Make A Wag. 

If You’d Like to Help

To make a tax-deductible donation to Make A Wag, visit the organization’s website.

Jeff was a great person and veterinarian, and Make A Wag is a worthy cause. I encourage you to join me in honoring Jeff’s memory by supporting elderly pet owners and their pets through this organization.

Cat inside shelter cage reaching for a man's fingers outside the cage

‘A County Shelter We Can Be Proud Of’

Brownsburg Animal Clinic joins the Humane Society of the United States in celebrating National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week November 6 through 12.

In particular, we honor our own Hendricks County Animal Shelter for its many years of dedicated service to our county.

“I’m really proud of our shelter,” said Cherie Fox, co-founder, board president and director of animal operations for Misty Eyes Animal Center, an all-volunteer rescue organization based in Avon that collaborates with shelters to save lives and place pets in loving homes.

“The Hendricks County Animal Shelter is a government-run shelter,” said Fox, “but it’s not a 1950s dog pound any more. They are doing a remarkable job. It’s a county shelter we can be proud of.”

LaDonna Hughes is chief animal control officer and Hendricks County Animal Shelter manager. She’s been in charge of running the shelter since mid-2013.

“We’ve come a long way,” said Hughes, “but I still hear the word ‘pound’ a lot. We get called the dogcatcher. There’s so much more to what we do than catching dogs.”

Besides capturing and providing a safe haven for stray animals county-wide, our county shelter takes in pets from owners who can no longer care for them and makes homeless pets available for adoption. The Hendricks County Animal Shelter is also charged with investigating abuse and neglect cases and following up on reports of injured animals. They are responsible not only for domestic pets but livestock and wildlife, too.

Shelter Facts and Figures

There is currently no organization officially charged with tabulating statistics for animal shelter operations in the United States. The following nationwide figures are estimates from several sources.

  • As of 2021, there were more than 3,500 animal shelters.
  • About 6.3 million companion animals are taken into shelters each year, including about 3.1 million dogs and 3.2 million cats. Of those, about a quarter are pets surrendered to the shelter by their owners. About half are captured as strays.
  • The average shelter admits more than 1,100 animals a year.
  • About 10% of shelter animals have been spayed or neutered.
  • About 25% of dogs in shelters are purebreds.
  • About 810,000 stray animals taken into shelters, including 710,000 dogs and 100,000 cats, are reunited with their owners.
  • About 4.1 million shelter animals, including 2 million dogs and 2.1 million cats, are placed in new homes each year.
  • Indiana shelters house 2.11% of the nation’s shelter animals and account for 2.07% of shelter adoptions.
  • About 920,000 animals are euthanized each year, including 390,000 dogs and 530,000 cats.
  • About 65% of dogs entering shelters are adopted and 13% are euthanized.
  • About 66% of shelter cats are adopted and 17% are euthanized.

The Hendricks County Animal Shelter

Our county’s animal shelter is 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.

Local Statistics

During 2021, the Hendricks County Animal Shelter took in 1,490 animals. Of those, 455 were placed in adoptive homes. 

Rescue organizations pulled 338 animals from the shelter in 2021, including about 300 rats and small animals confiscated in two hoarding and neglect cases handled by the county last year.

The euthanasia rate in 2021 was 6%. Only severely ill and dangerously aggressive animals were euthanized.

“I am pretty proud of that 6% euthanasia rate,” said Hughes. “There was a time about 10 years ago, when our rate of euthanasias was 77% of our total admissions.”

Admissions to the Shelter

The shelter has 34 dog kennels and 60 cat cages to accommodate animals admitted to the shelter.

Animals come to the shelter as strays or from owners who can no longer care for them. Owners who want to surrender their pets to the shelter may be referred to a rescue organization or put on a waiting list until space is available. 

The intake process involves a basic medical examination and essential health care.

“We check them over the best we can,” said Hughes. “We give them core vaccines and start them on flea and tick preventives. We test for heartworms and start them on preventives or treat them if they test positive.”

The shelter has to hold animals taken in as strays for three business days before making them available for adoption so that owners have a chance to claim them. “We take their picture and put up a shelter alert on our Facebook page in hopes of finding the owner,” said Hughes.

Animals surrendered by their owners may be placed for adoption 24 hours after being admitted to the shelter. 

“People still ask, ‘Are you going to kill it after three days?’” said Hughes. “We get that a lot. 

“If they’re adoptable, they will be cared for and kept safe either here or with a rescue organization until they’re adopted. We don’t set deadlines on these animals, and we don’t euthanize for space. Only if an animal is dangerously aggressive or too ill for treatment, will we euthanize.”

To Adopt a Shelter Pet

Some pets available for adoption from the Hendricks County Animal Shelter are listed on Petfinder.com.

You can also see available pets as well as recently-adopted pets and their new families on the shelter’s Facebook page

For your convenience, the shelter makes the adoption application available online for you to complete and bring with you when you visit the shelter.

“We’re open to the public six days a week, and we invite anyone looking to adopt a dog or cat to stop by for a visit to see all the pets available now for adoption,” said Hughes. 

“Sometimes we have multiple applications for the same animal. We go through those and try to get the best fit, based on the applicant’s situation and their interactions with the animal. For some, we might suggest a better fit—maybe encourage them to go home and do some research to find a breed that might be better-suited to their activity level and lifestyle. 

“We always do our best to place each animal into the best possible adoptive home.”

Current adoption fees, set to help defray the costs of vaccines, spaying or neutering and any needed medical treatment, are $70 for adult dogs, $150 for puppies, $20 for adult cats and $70 for kittens.

To Donate to the Shelter

The shelter welcomes donated supplies. While needs change over time, some supplies are always welcome. “Right now, the most helpful donation would be regular chlorine bleach,” said Hughes. “We can always use any kind of dog food as long as it doesn’t contain red food dye, and any kind of cat and kitten food. We also need clay litter.”

Tax-deductible cash donations to the Hendricks County Animal Shelter can be made to the Hendricks County Friends of the Shelter, a 501(c)(3) organization.

“All the money given to Friends of the Shelter goes directly into a medical fund for the animals,” noted Hughes.

To Volunteer

The shelter welcomes volunteers to help care for and play with the animals, clean cages, launder blankets and towels, do clerical work and staff special events. 

To volunteer at the shelter, you must be 18 years old or older or at least 16 years old and accompanied by a parent. You must complete a Volunteer Application form and attend a volunteer orientation session before starting to work.

“Right now, I would most love to have more volunteers in here walking the dogs,” said Hughes. “We walk them all in the morning, but sometimes we can’t get to all of them in the evenings.” 

If you are interested in providing a temporary foster home for a pet, the shelter will connect you with a partner rescue group in our area, such as Misty Eyes.

Other Ways You Can Help

“We have a huge pet overpopulation problem and the pandemic has intensified it,” said Fox.

“In central Indiana we have five low-cost spay and neuter clinics that had to shut down for months at the outset of the pandemic. That left us with thousands of animals that haven’t been fixed and thousands of unwanted litters. Despite everything we’d done to get ourselves ahead with spays and neuters, the pandemic set us back about 10 or 15 years.”

“I agree 100 percent,” said Hughes. “We’ve been over capacity for a good year now.”

You can do your part to help reduce the pet overpopulation problem by spaying or neutering your own pet.

You can also minimize the chances your pet will be taken in as a stray at the shelter by taking these simple steps:

  • Do not allow your pet to run loose.
  • Keep a collar with identification tags on your pet at all times.
  • Have an identification chip implanted in your pet.

In Appreciation

We at Brownsburg Animal Clinic appreciate the vital role the Hendricks County Animal Shelter plays in looking out for the welfare of all the animals in our county.

We applaud the progress the shelter has made in recent years to reduce the euthanasia rate to 6%—a direct result of their commitment to find homes for every adoptable pet, whether through direct placement from the shelter or through a rescue organization such as Misty Eyes.

We hope you will consider supporting the shelter and the dogs and cats waiting there to be adopted into their new homes.

Technician handling test samples with gloved hands

Celebrating National Veterinary Technician Week

We invite all our clients to join the Brownsburg Animal Clinic team in celebrating National Veterinary Technician Week October 16 through 22, 2022.

In close collaboration with our veterinarians, veterinary assistants, client/patient service representatives, clinic assistants and office management staff, our registered veterinary technicians (RVTs) play a vital role in the day-to-day operations of the clinic, caring for our patients and helping keep our clients well-informed about their pets.

What Registered Veterinary Technicians Do

Our RVTs’ daily to-do lists most often include—

  • Taking the pet’s medical history and understanding current health concerns
  • Giving medicine and vaccines as prescribed by our veterinarians
  • Teaching clients to give medicine and provide home care for their pets
  • Taking x-rays
  • Assisting in surgeries and dental procedures
  • Collecting samples and performing lab tests
  • Cleaning and bandaging wounds
  • Removing stitches
  • Maintaining patients’ medical records

Our RVTs’ Qualifications

To be qualified as an RVT in Indiana, our team members have successfully—

  • Completed an American Veterinary Medical Association-accredited two- or four-year program leading to an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology,
  • Earned certification from the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency, and
  • Taken and passed the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) and a written jurisprudence examination.

The computer-based VTNE presents 150 multiple-choice exam questions plus 20 more questions being tested for future exams. There’s a three-hour time limit on completing the exam.

The questions focus on nine areas:

  • Anesthesia
  • Emergency Medicine/Critical Care
  • Pharmacy and Pharmacology
  • Pain Management/Analgesia
  • Dentistry
  • Laboratory Procedures
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Animal Care and Nursing
  • Surgical Nursing

In Indiana, only those who have met these requirements may use the title “registered veterinary technician” or the abbreviation “RVT.”

Once they’ve earned their license, our RVTs must keep current by completing 16 hours of continuing education every two years.

In Appreciation

We appreciate the commitment and dedication shown by our RVTs and thank them for their service to our patients and clients. We are pleased to recognize and honor their contributions to veterinary medicine during this special week.

We encourage you to express your appreciation for our RVTs on your next visit to the clinic.

Overweight cat sitting on top of a post

National Pet Obesity Awareness Day

October 12, 2022, is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, sponsored by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

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

To put pet obesity in human perspective, the association’s “Pet Weight Loss Translator” presents charts to compare your pet’s weight to the average weight of a man or woman.

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

Let Us Help!

If your pet is overweight or obese, the Brownsburg Animal Clinic team is eager to help you help your pet achieve a healthy weight. Ask your veterinarian to recommend the best approach to addressing this critically important aspect of your pet’s health and wellbeing.

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.

Reclining white dog licking brown and white cat's ear

All About Appointments

Like most general veterinary medical practices, we manage our workflow and minimize our clients’ waiting time by seeing patients by appointment only. We offer several types of appointments to accommodate the pet’s and the owner’s particular needs.

Among the options:

  • Wellness visits
  • Sick visits
  • Emergency visits
  • Work-in visits
  • Drop-offs
  • Tech Visits
  • Referrals

To keep things running smoothly, we have established policies for dealing with scheduling, delays, cancellations and “no-shows.”

For details of the types of appointments we offer and how we manage them, visit the Appointments page in the Client Information section of our website.

Google home page screen shot

Calling Dr. Google

Within the medical community, doctors and staff sometimes refer disparagingly to “Dr. Google”  and the clients who search the Internet for medical information.

67% of pet owners bring Internet research on their phone or web page print-outs.

At Brownsburg Animal Clinic, we choose a more enlightened view of our Internet-based colleague. We appreciate it when our clients take the initiative and try to learn more about their pets’ health so they can ask better questions and make better-informed decisions.

To get the greatest benefit out of online resources as a complement to the medical advice you receive from our veterinarians and staff, we suggest you stick to mainstream veterinary medical sites. In our experience, sites maintained by professional societies and colleges of veterinary medicine offer more reliable information than sites maintained by individual veterinarians.

Here, in no particular order, are some of our favorite online sources:

The American Heartworm Society’s web site has a pet owner resources section that is ideal for learning the basics about heartworm disease and its treatment and prevention.

The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) maintains an informative web site with guidelines for controlling internal and external parasites that threaten the health of pets and people. There are sections for dog owners and cat owners and one containing articles of interest to families. Clickable maps show the prevalence of various kinds of parasites in the United States. Click on Indiana and see a county-by-county breakdown. The Resources tab reveals a list of brochures and articles.

VeterinaryPartner.com has a wealth of reliable veterinary medical information for pet owners. While the site design is busy and dated, the search function makes it easy to find articles about specific topics.

The Cornell Feline Health Center web site,  published by the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, focuses on all major aspects of caring for cats.

Cornell’s Canine Health Center web site offers similar resources to help care for dogs.

Medical records folders on a shelf

HIPAA for Pets

At Brownsburg Animal Clinic, we maintain detailed medical records on every one of our patients. From time to time, our clients ask us to share those records with veterinary specialists, emergency clinics, breeders, groomers and training clubs. By state law, we cannot release your pet’s records without a signed authorization from you.

Doctors’ handling of human patients’ medical records are subject to HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. While HIPAA does not apply to veterinary records, many states—including Indiana—have implemented similar regulations to protect the privacy of animals’ medical records and information about their medical condition.

Here are the specific regulations for Indiana, as summarized by the American Veterinary Medical Association on their web page about confidentiality of veterinary patient records:

An animal’s veterinary medical record and medical condition is confidential and may not be furnished to or discussed with any person other than the client or other veterinarians involved in the care or treatment of the animal without written authorization of the client with the following exceptions:

An animal’s veterinary medical records and medical condition must be furnished within five (5) business days without written client authorization under the following circumstances:

(1) Access to the records is specifically required by a state or federal statute.

(2) An order by a court with jurisdiction in a civil or criminal action upon the court’s issuance of a subpoena and notice to the client or the client’s legal representative.

(3) As part of an inspection or investigation conducted by the board or an agent of the board.

(4) As part of a request from a regulatory or health authority, physician, or veterinarian:

(A) to verify a rabies vaccination of an animal; or

(B) to investigate a threat to human or animal health, or for the protection of animal or public health and welfare.

(5) As a part of an animal cruelty report and associated applicable records that are part of an abuse investigation by law enforcement or a governmental agency.

(6) To a law enforcement agency as part of a criminal investigation.

An animal’s veterinary medical records and medical condition may be furnished without written client authorization under the following circumstances:

(1) To the School of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University, the animal disease diagnostic laboratory, or a state agency or commission. However, an animal’s veterinary medical records remain confidential unless the information is disclosed in a manner allowed under this section.

(2) Veterinary medical records that are released by the board of animal health when in the judgment of the state veterinarian the disclosure is necessary or helpful in advancing animal health or protecting public health.

(3) For statistical and scientific research, if the information is abstracted in a way as to protect the identity of the animal and the client.

Authorize Now

We have a multi-purpose form that includes an authorization to release your pet’s records when you ask us to.

For your convenience, we encourage you to download and complete the form now and return it to our office so we may respond without delay any time you ask us to share your pet’s medical records.

You can also use this form to notify us of changes in your address or phone number.

Fireworks display

Managing Your Pet’s Noise Anxiety

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

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

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

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

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

Diagnosing Your Dog’s Noise Aversion

Illustrations Showing Noise Aversion Symptoms

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

Home Remedies for Noise Aversion

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

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

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

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

Helpful Medical Treatment

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

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

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

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

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

Face mask being held by someone wearing a white coat and gloves

Mask Requirement Update

In response to recent revisions to the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for managing COVID-19 risks, face masks are now optional inside our building.

Our masks-optional protocol aligns with CDC recommendations for Hendricks County—currently classified at “low” for our community level—a county-by-county rating based on new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population in the past 7 days, the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past 7 days.

To check the current community level for Hendricks and other counties of interest, use the CDC’s online tool.

What This Means to Our Clients and Team

As long as our community level stays at “low,” our clients and team members will no longer be required to wear masks indoors.

In keeping with the CDC guidelines, should the Hendricks County community level rise to “medium,” we will expect clients and employees who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease to talk to their healthcare provider about whether or not they need to wear a mask and act accordingly.

If Hendricks County’s community level rises to high, we will once again require everyone to wear a mask indoors.

Regardless of our current community level, we expect some clients and team members will continue to wear masks simply because they feel more secure wearing a mask indoors.

CDC Guidelines for All Community Levels

At all three community levels, the CDC advises everyone to stay up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters and to follow CDC recommendations for isolation and quarantine, including getting tested, if exposed to or having symptoms of COVID-19.

Free at-home tests are available from the U.S. government at COVIDtests.gov. We encourage all our clients and employees to order these tests for their households and keep them on hand to use if someone develops symptoms, has a close exposure to someone with COVID-19 or wants to spend time indoors with someone who would be at high risk if they were to catch the coronavirus.

If you are sick or test positive for COVID-19, or if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, we ask that you stay home. Call the clinic at (317) 852-3323 to reschedule your appointment.

Curbside Service Still an Option

For clients who prefer not to come inside, given the new masking protocol, we will continue to offer curbside service.

Curbside service is also a convenient option for prescription and food pick-up and technician appointments.

Whether or not you plan to come inside with your pet for your appointment, we ask that you call (317) 852-3323 when you arrive in our parking lot.

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.

Pet owner shaking hands with ddog

New Job Title for Front Desk Staff

During Brownsburg Animal Clinic’s more than 50 years of operation, the team members who work at the front desk have been called “receptionists.” While they do indeed receive clients and patients visiting the clinic, they do so very much more!

To recognize and reflect the role played by our front desk staff more accurately, we have created a more fitting job title: Client/Patient Service Representative—CPSR for short.

Jennifer, who joined our team in June 2020 and has worked in veterinary medicine for 20 years, is our new lead CPSR.

“The new title suggests a much more accurate and complete description of the role our front desk team members play in our relationships with clients and patients,” said Brownsburg Animal Clinic owner Timea Brady, DVM. “Most often, they are the first team members our clients interact with when they call or visit the clinic and the last ones they see when they check out. But there’s a lot more to the job than that.”

“We have always been much more than receptionists,” said Jennifer. “We are also listeners, educators, advocates, scheduling gurus, decision-makers and liaisons between clients and the rest of the team. The Customer/Patient Service Representative title does a better job of conveying that.”

The Job Description

Receiving human, canine and feline visitors to the clinic is only one of many duties of a CPSR. Here’s a more complete list:

  • Greet clients and patients on arrival at the clinic and let technicians know they have arrived
  • Check out clients after appointments, prescription and food pick-ups
  • Answer phones, check voicemail messages and return phone calls
  • Monitor and respond to email messages to the main clinic account, mail@brownsburganimalclinic.com
  • Monitor the fax machine and send faxes as needed
  • Answer and assess the urgency of clients’ questions in person, by phone and by email, conferring with technicians and veterinarians as needed to see that the patient receives timely, appropriate care
  • Log clients’ questions and concerns into the medical records and bring the information to the attention of the veterinarians as needed
  • Log prescription refill requests and forward them for approval by the prescribing veterinarian
  • Schedule appointments, dental procedures and surgeries
  • Manage the clinic’s prescription diet orders to make sure the foods our patients need are always in stock
  • File charts and loose paperwork from the previous day
  • Print appointment check-in sheets for the next day and retrieve the patients’ charts
  • Keep the front lobby and reception area clean and organized
  • Unlock the building in the morning and lock up at the end of the day

A Focus on Patients as Well as Clients

While many veterinary clinics have adopted the Customer Service Representative or CSR title for their front desk staffs, Jennifer suggested including patients as well as clients in the new title, an idea Dr. Brady approved. 

“When we began considering the title change, I suggested making us not just client service reps but client and patient service reps—CPSRs—because we don’t just advocate and act as liaisons with the rest of the team for the client. We are always advocating for the best possible care for the pets—our patients—as well.”

The CPSR Team

According to Jennifer, the best CPSRs possess listening skills, empathy and the ability to focus and multi-task. For her, the job’s biggest challenge is “to be taken seriously as a veterinary professional as I work the front desk. I’ve worked hard over the last 20 years to educate myself so that I can make the best recommendations to pet owners. The most satisfying part of my job is seeing an owner follow through with a recommendation that I made and by doing that, seeing the pet’s health improve.”

“I think one of the most challenging parts of the job for me is the constant need to switch between tasks,” said Katherine, who joined the clinic team in late 2017. “It can certainly make the day go by quickly, but toggling between the variety of tasks we have, such as checking clients in, checking clients out, scheduling appointments, entering prescription refill requests and passing patient updates and concerns on to the doctors—just to name a few—all while answering sometimes non-stop phone calls—certainly keeps us on our toes!

“We love helping all our patients, but I think one of the most rewarding parts of the job is seeing a sick patient regain their health with the help of our team. Nothing beats seeing a happy wagging tail or hearing a happy purr from a patient who was really feeling under the weather.”

For Stephanie, who came to work at the clinic in September 2021, the primary challenges are in learning a new field. “Fortunately, I love having the opportunity to learn new things every day and I find it very rewarding to use my growing knowledge to help people and their pets.”

Like Jennifer, CPSR Kelly, who joined the team in December 2021, finds it challenging to be thought of as “just a receptionist.” She said, “I have been in this field for more than 25 years, and I work hard every day to learn and provide the best care to all—pets and people.” For her, the greatest satisfaction comes with “knowing that at the end of the day, I have provided the best quality of care that I possibly could to clients, pets and co-workers.”

We’re Here to Help You and Your Pet

To contact any member of the Client/Patient Service Representative team, call (317) 852-3323 or send email to mail@brownsburganimalclinic.com.

Email lead CPSR Jennifer directly at jenn@brownsburganimalclinic.com.

Standing cat sniffing reclining dog's head

New Clients to Deposit Exam Fees Before Scheduling Appointments

Effective immediately, Brownsburg Animal Clinic is collecting advance payments from prospective new clients before scheduling their first appointments.

The payment amount is $58 per pet to be seen at the appointment—our standard fee for a physical examination—and will be credited to the prospective new client’s account and applied to the first invoice.

How It Works

  • The prospective new client calls our clinic to schedule a first appointment for one or more pets.
  • After gathering the basic information about the client and pet(s), our team member asks for credit or debit card information and authorization to charge the exam fee(s) to secure the appointment.
  • If the prospective new client needs to reschedule the appointment and lets us know during our normal office hours at least 24 hours in advance of the scheduled appointment time, we will reschedule the appointment and the prepayment will remain as a credit in the new client’s account.
  • If the prospective new client decides to cancel the appointment and lets us know during office hours at least 24 hours in advance of the scheduled appointment time, we will refund the advance payment.
  • If the prospective new client cancels without sufficient notice or simply fails to show up for the appointment, the advance payment is forfeited and there will be no refund.

Why the New Policy?

Like any veterinary practice that works by appointment, we have always had the occasional “no call-no show” client who scheduled an appointment and then failed to show up. Sometimes an emergency or an unexpected delay occurs or the client loses track of time or simply forgets. We understand. Life happens.

Unfortunately, as demand for veterinary services has increased and scheduling backlogs have built up during the pandemic, we have seen a sharp increase in the number of scheduled appointments that are neither cancelled nor kept—particularly among prospective new clients.

In addition to all the usual reasons for failing to keep appointments, we believe these pet owners may be calling multiple practices and scheduling multiple appointments, planning to keep only the one with the first available veterinarian at any clinic in town. Unfortunately, they sometimes neglect to cancel the appointments they don’t plan to keep, and one or more veterinary teams is left waiting to care for the new patient who never arrives.

We find this especially frustrating at a time when there are so many clients who would have been happy to have that unkept appointment for their pet, and we would have been happy to spend that time caring for our patient sooner rather than later.

We hope by implementing this advance payment policy for prospective new clients, we will encourage them to be more mindful of the appointments they make while reducing the number of appointments that go to waste.

This policy also applies to established clients who have a history of failing to keep scheduled appointments.

Cat walking in front of reclining dog

Policy Update for Prescription Refills

To make sure our patients have uninterrupted access to their prescription drugs, Brownsburg Animal Clinic has recently updated our prescription refills policy, asking clients to allow at least 48 hours or two full business days for us to process refill requests.

Previously, we expected to refill most prescriptions within 24 hours—and we often still do.

But in these times of increased demand for our services, we’ve determined a more realistic turnaround time is 48 hours, or two full business days.

For drugs we don’t normally keep in stock, the lead time required could be even longer.

If we haven’t examined your pet recently, we may not be able to approve the refill until you’ve scheduled an appointment for an exam.

And if the prescription is for a controlled substance, Indiana law requires us to comply with strict regulations to help prevent drug abuse and drug trafficking, creating additional paperwork and documentation before we can dispense the drug.

What This Policy Change Means to You and Your Pet

If your pet has an ongoing need for a prescription drug, we ask for your cooperation in making sure you have it on hand when you need it. That means:

  • Keeping an eye on your supply and requesting the refill well before you run out.
  • Calling or emailing to ask if an examination will be required before the refill can be approved and if so, scheduling an appointment.
  • Being prepared to supply identifying information and a photo ID of the pet’s owner and/or the person to whom we’ll be dispensing the drug if the prescription is for a controlled substance.

To request a refill, email us at mail@brownsburganimalclinic.com or call us at (317) 852-3323.

For more details about how we manage prescription drugs—including Indiana’s Prescription Monitoring Program for controlled substances—visit the Prescriptions and Refills page on our website.

Gloved hand holding two test tubes containing blood

How We Manage Lab Test Results

If your pet has needed laboratory tests lately, you may have been impacted by yet another of the many continuing consequences of the pandemic: It usually takes longer for us to receive, review and interpret test results now than it did in the days before March 2020.

Here’s why:

  • Like our veterinary colleagues throughout the nation, we are experiencing unprecedented demand for our services. 
  • In the earliest weeks of the pandemic response, we were allowed to offer only “essential” services, creating a backlog of demand for wellness visits and elective procedures. 
  • Clients spending more time at home with their pets continue to notice more health issues and call for more appointments. 
  • We (and many of our colleagues) are seeing more new clients and patients who need our services. 
  • Although we’ve improved with experience, curbside service is still somewhat less efficient than face-to-face interactions, reducing the number of appointments we can offer in a given day and lengthening the time required for each visit. Phone lines are often tied up. Hold times are longer. Nerves are frazzled. This situation has eased since we reopened our exam rooms to clients, but we are still offering curbside service to clients who prefer it and for tech appointments and prescription and food pick-ups.

Through it all, Brownsburg Animal Clinic has been and steadfastly remains here for you and your pet. Our mission is to care for as many patients as we can capably manage while upholding our standards for safety and quality of care. While it may not be “business as usual” as we and our long-term clients had come to know it before the onset of the pandemic, our veterinarians and team remain committed—as always—to providing uncompromising patient care to the very best of our abilities.

The Pandemic’s Impact on Laboratory Test Results

Every laboratory test result requires careful scrutiny and thoughtful evaluation by the veterinarian handling the case. The process cannot and should not be rushed. 

How soon our veterinarians and team members are able contact you to discuss your pet’s test results depends on a number of factors. To manage these factors and address the many competing priorities demanding our time and attention every day, we rely on a triage (pronounced TREE-ahzh) system to manage our workflow, including review and analysis of laboratory test results. 

When you bring your pet in for an appointment and the doctor or technician take tissue, urine or a fecal sample, or draw blood, we send the specimen to the laboratory—either in-house or outside, depending on the test. How soon we receive test results can vary depending on the lab’s case load and the type of test.

Once the results are in, how soon the veterinarian or a team member can be ready to discuss test results with you varies, too, depending on our current workload and the potential urgency of the case.

In the past, each of our doctors typically had one or two test reports to review and interpret each day. Currently, we are each receiving results from as many as five to seven lab tests a day, and we have to review and interpret each report, formulate a diagnosis and treatment plan options for every case, and contact each owner to discuss next steps. 

Using our triage system, we fit this higher volume of lab report-related tasks in among our other duties—seeing pets at regularly-scheduled appointments, performing surgical and dental procedures, completing medical records, reviewing requests for prescription refills, offering medical advice, answering questions and, if necessary, handling emergency cases that may come in.

Within the context of all these daily duties, here’s how we apply triage principles to lab reports:

  • Test results for more urgent cases and sicker pets take priority over more routine tests, such as wellness blood tests for apparently healthy pets. A veterinarian treating a seriously ill pet will typically make time to review lab test results at the first opportunity.
  • Depending on the purpose of the test and the pet’s medical history, we can sometimes analyze a lab report showing all results within normal ranges more quickly than we can evaluate a report showing one or more abnormalities. A pet who shows symptoms of illness yet tests normally may require further consideration and analysis.
  • Regardless of the pet’s apparent state of health, lab reports showing concerning abnormalities may prompt a full review of the pet’s medical records and, perhaps, additional research and consultation to arrive at a diagnosis and develop treatment plan options. 

We realize waiting for test results can be agonizing—especially when you’re worried about a sick pet and anxious to find out the diagnosis and get on with treatment. We share your concern and assure you, we always do our very best to process lab test results in the most insightful and timely way possible. 

Thank you for your patience and understanding!

Pug dog with chin resting on a car window frame

Curbside-Only Continues

Despite the decline of COVID-19 new case and death rates from winter highs to levels close to those experienced last summer, Brownsburg Animal Clinic will continue curbside service exclusively until further notice.

We will also continue following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control regarding wearing masks and keeping physical distance from colleagues and clients.

Like most of our clients, we strongly prefer the more efficient and satisfying face-to-face interactions of indoor appointments. Several of our team members and their pets have recently visited specialty clinics where curbside service was the only option. In sharing their experiences of curbside as clients, they’ve helped all of us understand better than ever our own clients’ frustrations with curbside service.

Other team members have shared recent experiences with providers of human healthcare and dentistry, citing continuing restrictions on family members allowed into exam and hospital rooms.

Within the veterinary industry, we are seeing many clinics and veterinary teaching hospitals continuing to offer curbside only, until further notice—as we have elected to do. Others have reopened their facilities to the public while still making curbside service available to clients who prefer it,. We tried that from last July 6 until November 10, when we reverted to curbside-only as infection and death rates soared.

As a healthcare professional and clinic owner, I am solely responsible for setting policies for our clinic. I consider the current risks of infection too great to reopen our building to the public right now and for the foreseeable future. That’s why curbside-only service will continue at Brownsburg Animal Clinic.

All year long, my first priority has been and remains the health and safety of our staff, our families and our clients. Infections within the clinic could not only make any number of us sick and jeopardize our own and our families’ health, but also shut us down for weeks. I want to keep that risk as low as possible so we can continue to be here for our clients and patients without interruption. I also want to minimize confusion about what our clients can expect when they come for an appointment by continuing the policy we’ve had in place for the past four months until infection and death rates stabilize at lower levels.

As COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available, I am encouraging all on our team who wish to be vaccinated to schedule their appointments promptly. We will track the dates their shots are administered and wait for full efficacy for all vaccinated staff members before we consider reopening the building. We will also continue to monitor the infection and death rates as well as vaccination rates for Hendricks and surrounding counties as we look to restore full access to our building as soon as we feel it’s reasonably safe to do so.

Meanwhile, we are allowing clients into the building for euthanasias. If you observe clients entering the building, we ask that you understand this is the most likely reason for their visit and offer them the same respect and compassion you would appreciate if you were saying goodbye to your pet for the last time.

We will notify our clients by email, website post and Facebook post when we feel it is safe to reopen our building to clients. We apologize for any inconvenience and frustration our continuing curbside-only policy may cause you as a client.

Curbside Protocols

As a reminder, here’s how curbside works:

  • Call in advance to make an appointment for your pet’s visit.
  • When you arrive for the appointment, call the front desk at (317) 852-3323 to let us know you’re in our parking lot.
  • A technician will call you to discuss your pet’s history and the reason for the appointment. 
  • A technician will then come to your car and bring your pet into the clinic for examination and treatment.
  • Cats must be in a secure carrier—not loose in your vehicle. We provide secure leads for dogs.
  • Our staff will not reach into your vehicle for your pet. We’re asking you to place cat carriers on the ground by your vehicle for the staff member to pick up or stand by your vehicle with your dog on a leash until the staff member secures the slip lead and you can safely hand the dog off.
  • Unless it’s a drop-off appointment or special arrangements have been made in advance and approved by the veterinarian, we expect clients to remain in their vehicles in our parking lot throughout the appointment.
  • All communication concerning diagnosis, treatment options and check-out will take place on the phone. Because of the increased call volume, you may experience delays in having your call answered and long hold times. Please know we are doing our best to manage phone calls as quickly and efficiently as we can.
  • At the conclusion of the appointment, after you’ve paid your bill, a staff member will return your pet, along with any prescribed medicines or foods, to your car.
  • We ask that you maintain a distance of at least six feet from anyone you encounter during your visit to our clinic.
  • We expect you to wear a snug-fitting mask covering your nose and mouth while interacting with our staff members and other clients who may be waiting in the parking lot.

Food Orders and Prescription Refills

If you need to visit the clinic to pick up food or medicine, we ask for more than the usual 24-hours’ advance notice. Call well ahead of time, charge the merchandise to your credit or debit card, and we will let you know when your order will be ready. Call the front desk when you arrive for pickup and we will bring it out to you.

You can also order supplies for delivery directly to your home from our online VetSource store.

Thank you!

We all join you in looking forward to the time when we can safely reopen the building to our clients—and we most certainly will—just as soon as we feel it is prudent to do so again.

Thank you for your continuing patience, cooperation and understanding.

Sincerely,

Timea H. Brady's signature

Timea H. Brady, DVM
Owner, Brownsburg Animal Clinic

P.S. My team and I understand waiting can be frustrating! I assure you, we are doing our very best to respond promptly to every call we receive, in order of urgency, and to operate as efficiently as we possibly can. Regardless of your wait time, we expect you to be civil to our team members, once they are able to help you.

Seresto flea and tick collars for dogs and cats

Are Seresto Flea and Tick Collars Safe?

On March 3, 2021, USA Today published an article with this alarming headline: 

‘Popular flea collar linked to almost 1,700 pet deaths. The EPA has issued no warning.’

The collar in question is Bayer brand’s Seresto flea and tick collar for dogs and cats, now sold by Elanco, which acquired Bayer Animal Health in August 2020. Since Bayer introduced the collars in 2012, more than 25 million have been sold in the U.S. The collars are effective at controlling fleas and ticks for eight months.

We understand how clients reading the USA Today article would be deeply concerned—especially if their pets wear Seresto collars!

On our first read-through, we found the article concerning ourselves! 

After all, we’ve been recommending these collars for years as a convenient, effective alternative to monthly oral and topical preventives. We sell them in our online store. 

However, in all our years of recommending Seresto collars for our patients, we’ve witnessed no such severe side-effects as described in the USA Today article. We’ve heard no such stories from other veterinarians, nor have we read about them in veterinary medical publications. The clients who use Seresto collars for their pets seem to love them.

So are Seresto flea and tick collars safe? 

Rather than look to the popular press for definitive veterinary medical information, we decided to find out what veterinary toxicologists—none of whom were interviewed for the USA Today article—have to say in response to the article. 

Here’s what we found:

While the article alluded to numerous consumer reports to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implicating the collars in the deaths of nearly 1,700 pets, injuries to tens of thousands of pets and health problems for hundreds of pet owners, there is no way to know for sure, based solely on raw, unverified anecdotal evidence, that the collars actually caused such a myriad of problems. 

’The signs are very random.’

Quoted in an article published by the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) on March 5, 2021, Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center and a toxicology consultant for VIN, said, “Looking at these reports, these are very random things, ranging from ruptured eardrums — which I can’t make fit really at all — to liver failure, to heart problems, to kidney failure. The fact that the signs are very random makes me think that probably [the collar] is not involved.”

‘You cannot make a cause-effect connection.’

A second VIN toxicology consultant, Dr. Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, pointed out that consumer reports to the EPA are often anecdotal and unverified. “Anyone can report anything to regulatory agencies,” she said. “That doesn’t mean it’s true or accurate. This is why looking at the raw data from these agencies is so dangerous — they reflect only the reports, not any ancillary information required to determine if there’s actually any merit to the report.” She added without a veterinary examination or necropsy (an animal autopsy) to rule out other potential causes of illness or death, “you cannot make a cause-effect connection.”

‘The toxicity of these collars is extremely low.’

On a listserv for veterinary toxicologists, Gwaltney-Brant said her colleagues expressed surprise at the concerns about Seresto collars. Even when pets ingest the collars—which happens fairly often with dogs—she said, “the toxicity of these collars is extremely low, and they have no ‘red flags’ on this particular product.” 

‘You don’t necessarily know where these collars are coming from.’

Both toxicologists agreed the prevalence of counterfeit products could make it difficult to interpret the incident reports. Fake collars, packaged to look like the real thing and usually priced somewhat lower than the genuine product, may not only fail to protect pets from fleas and ticks but contain ingredients that do harm pets.

“You don’t necessarily know where these collars are coming from and what actually is in them,” Wismer said. “And that could explain a lot of the different kinds of clinical signs we are seeing.”

‘We feel very comfortable with the safety profile of these collars.’

An article titled “Collar-Gate,” published on March 5, 2021, in The Canine Review called the USA Today report “flawed, incomplete, and misleading.” 

The article quoted American Board of Veterinary Toxicology President-Elect Dr. Ahna Brutlag as saying, “We feel very comfortable with the safety profile of these collars.” 

Dr. Brutlag is the Director of Veterinary Services at the Pet Poison Helpline and has worked with the Helpline since 2004. During that time she said she has not seen any examples of serious adverse events connected with Seresto collars. “Our data has really shown that the collars are not associated with severe adverse events.” 

Dr. Brutlag noted that the active ingredients in Seresto collars—imidacloprid and flumethrin—are widely used and based on experience, have “a pretty wide and favorable safety profile for the collars.”

Until we see solid scientific proof, and until our own profession issues warnings, we intend to keep recommending Seresto collars.

Veterinarians weighing in on a VIN message board about the matter have been contacted by concerned clients—as we have. Like us, after years of recommending the collars, they have had very few if any serious adverse reactions to the collars reported. 

And until we see solid scientific proof of a direct, causal connection to serious adverse reactions, we intend to keep recommending Seresto collars.

Rest assured, if any solid medical evidence of harmful effects of Seresto collars does emerge in the aftermath of the USA Today article, we veterinarians will be among the very first to know and to respond immediately and appropriately to keep our patients safe. The safety and wellbeing of your pets always has been and always will be our first priority!

Meanwhile, here are a few more points to keep in mind:

In our part of Indiana, we strongly recommend some form of flea and tick control year-round.

All flea and tick preventives come with some degree of risk of adverse reactions, but the risks of discomfort and diseases spread by fleas and ticks to animals and humans far outweigh those risks.

If you are currently using Seresto collars and the concerns about them have you feeling uneasy, we encourage you to click through and read the articles linked to on this post. Then talk to any of our veterinarians about oral and topical alternatives to protect your pet and your family from flea- and tick-borne diseases. 

Before using Seresto collars—or any other pet product or medication, for that matter—discuss the risks to your particular pet with your veterinarian, read the entire label and follow instructions to the letter. 

Counterfeit pet care products are widely offered by independent sellers through Amazon, Ebay and other online sources, usually at a lower price than the genuine product. Make sure you buy genuine Seresto collars and other pet supplies only from reputable sources. We guarantee any products you buy in our office and through our VetSource online store are the real thing. 

With any flea and tick preventive in any form, watch your pet closely after administering it—especially for the first time—and call us immediately if you see any signs of discomfort or distress. 

Puppy cradled in owner's arm

Moving Toward ‘the New Normal’

To you, our valued client—we hope you and your loved ones (both human and animal) are staying well as the pandemic continues to impact all our lives.

As healthcare professionals, we know the threat of infection by the coronavirus remains very real. At the same time, we feel ready to take a few cautious steps toward “the new normal.”  

The following are some adjustments we’ll be making when we return after our July 4 holiday, when the clinic will be closed.

Effective Monday, July 6

  • Our weekday office hours will revert to 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., with the final appointment of the day at 5:00.
  • While the lobby remains closed, we are opening our facility back up to clients who wish to come inside with their pets, directly to exam rooms, for their appointments.
  • Curbside service will still be available to clients who prefer to stay in their cars.
  • Curbside service will continue for food and prescription pick-ups.

Here’s how our revised check-in will work:

  • Call the front desk at (317) 852-3323 when you arrive in our parking lot.
  • If you want to come inside with your pet, a team member will come out and escort you into the building, straight into an available exam room. Please plan on having no more than two people come inside with your pet.
  • We will be wearing masks and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from you throughout your visit, and we ask that you wear a mask and stay 6 feet away from our team members to protect all of us! 

Expect Delays

An unusually high volume of incoming telephone calls to the clinic continues to be a challenge as we communicate by phone during appointments with pet owners in our parking lot, answer more called-in health-related questions than ever before and process requests for prescription refills.

Even with two additional phone lines to help your calls get through, we are still having a hard time keeping up, and we are well aware the longer-than-usual hold times are aggravating to many of you.

Please know we are doing our very best to respond promptly to every call we receive, in order of urgency. And despite the longer hold times, we ask that you please be civil to our team members, once they are able to take your call.

We are also still working through a backlog of deferred wellness visits that built up in March and April when we were able to offer only essential care. While we set aside times in our daily schedule to take care of sick pets and administer timely puppy and kitten vaccines as needed, our next available wellness appointments are several weeks from now.

Returning to our former schedule and staying open an additional hour every weekday will help ease the situation, but it will still take time to clear the backlog to pre-pandemic levels. 

Until we are able to get fully caught up, you may expect delays in scheduling a wellness appointment. We ask for your patience with our team members when you call.

Collaboration for the Good of Your Pet

Caring for our beloved pet-patients has always worked best as a collaborative effort among our clients, our veterinarians and the entire clinic team.

Ideally, our interactions take place in a cordial atmosphere of trust, respect and goodwill on all sides.

These days, when all our nerves are frayed because of the continuing threat of COVID-19 and the stress of not knowing just what the future holds, it is more important than ever to be kind and courteous to each other as we continue to get through this unprecedented time in our history together.

Thank you for entrusting us with your pet’s care. We look forward to continuing to serve you.

Sincerely,

Timea H. Brady's signature

Timea H. Brady, DVM
Owner, Brownsburg Animal Clinic

German shepherd dog looking out a car window

Why We Are Continuing Curbside Service—For Now

As safeguards to minimize the spread of the coronavirus are being relaxed statewide, several of our clients have asked when we will reopen our lobby and exam rooms to the public.

The answer is, not yet.

When we implemented curbside service on March 20, we saw it as the safest, most efficient way to continue to be here for our clients and patients while minimizing the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

So far, the curbside strategy—combined with stepped-up sanitation protocols and social distancing—appears to be working. Our doctors and staff have stayed well during the past two months while continuing to keep our patients healthy and ourselves, our families and our clients safe.

Meanwhile, as our state moves to re-open, the infection continues to spread.

According to the Indiana COVID-19 Data Report dashboard, as of noon Monday, May 11, the Indiana State Department of Health had reported 25,127 known cases of COVID-19 and 1,444 known deaths caused by the virus in our state. Hendricks County accounts for 984 of those positive cases and 55 deaths. Next door, Marion County reports 7,632 positive cases and 429 deaths.

Of the statewide total COVID-19 cases,  the State Department of Health confirmed 566 new cases between March 23 and May 11.

Those numbers remind us the risk of infection is still very real and, in my opinion as a health care provider, now is not the time to cut back unnecessarily on sensible, effective precautions aimed at keeping all of us safe. Despite some inconveniences, our curbside service is working well and we intend to keep it in place until we see a definite, persistent downward trend in new cases of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, as clinic owner, I remain committed to keeping my team and our clients safe and the clinic open for business, caring for patients. If just one of  our team members contracts the virus, we’ll be forced to shut down for as long as two weeks, delaying and denying much-needed care to all our patients.

We all look forward to the time when we can safely reopen the lobby and exam rooms to our clients—and we most certainly will—just as soon as we feel it is prudent to do so.

Thank you for your continuing cooperation and understanding.

Timea H. Brady's signature

Timea H. Brady, DVM
Owner, Brownsburg Animal Clinic

Pug on bed with sleeping owner

COVID-19 May 4 Update

To you, our valued client:

Governor Holcomb recently issued an executive order allowing health care providers, including veterinarians, to resume offering elective procedures, provided we have adopted policies and best practices that protect patients, doctors and staff against COVID-19 and also have sufficient gloves, masks and surgical gowns on hand.

At Brownsburg Animal Clinic, we meet the conditions stated in the governor’s executive order, so we have resumed scheduling elective procedures, preventive care exams and tests essential to your pet’s continued wellbeing.

Now Scheduling Elective Procedures and Preventive Care Exams

In addition to all essential diagnostics and treatments listed in my April 11 update, we are now scheduling—

  • Dental procedures
  • Elective surgeries
  • Preventive care exams
  • Heartworm tests
  • Adult vaccines
  • Other tests, exams and procedures we may have postponed

If you have postponed an elective procedure or preventive care exam during the past few months, we encourage you to call the clinic at (317) 852-3323 to schedule an appointment.

Given the backlog of demand that has built up over the past two months for elective procedures and preventive care, we have some catching up to do!

You may experience a somewhat longer-than-normal wait time for an available appointment as we do our best to accommodate clients who have deferred care while keeping enough time slots open for sick and injured pets. With help from our relief vets, we look forward to getting everyone taken care of and back on preventive care schedules soon.

Office Hours

For the time being, we will continue opening at 8:00 a.m. and closing an hour early at 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. Saturday hours are 8:00 a.m. to noon. We will let you know when we plan to resume our normal weekday office hours once the decision is made.

Curbside Service to Continue

We remain strongly committed to keeping our clients, doctors and staff safe!

To minimize the risks of infection, we plan to continue allowing only staff inside the clinic until we are confident new cases of COVID-19 are definitely on the decline in our immediate area.

For full details of how our curbside service works, please review the “Curbside 2.0” section in my April 11 update.

If You Are Ill

If you have an appointment scheduled and are experiencing coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue or fever, or if you know you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19, we ask that you call us to reschedule.

If your pet has a medical emergency and you are ill, we strongly encourage you to have a healthy family member or trusted friend bring your pet to the clinic for treatment.

If you are unable to make these arrangements, call us to let us know you’re ill and discuss options for getting your pet the care needed while protecting our team.

While it appears highly unlikely you can catch COVID-19 from your pet, there are several known cases worldwide of pets who appear to have contracted the disease from their owners. If you are ill, you can minimize the risks of infecting your pet by wearing a face mask and washing your hands thoroughly before any interactions. Better yet, ask a well family member or friend to take over caring for your pet until you are well.

Thanks Again!

We greatly appreciate the ongoing cooperation and understanding you’ve shown as we’ve worked together to make sure your pet is well cared-for while minimizing the risk of infection for all the humans involved.

We look forward to getting caught up on any deferred exams and procedures in the coming weeks. And as always, it means so much to us for you to entrust us with your pet’s care!

Sincerely,

Timea H. Brady's signature

Timea H. Brady, DVM
Owner, Brownsburg Animal Clinic

Woman reading magazine with dog

COVID-19 April 11 Update

To you, our valued client:

We’re still here for you and your pet!

And we deeply appreciate that you continue to be here for us as we work together to keep your pet happy and healthy in these challenging times.

We’re continuing to take extra precautions to minimize the risks of infection for you and our staff, including curbside service (see details of some fine-tuning below), and still closing an hour early at 5:00 p.m. on weekdays.

Essential Services

Under our governor’s stay-at-home order—now in effect until Monday, April 20—it’s still OK to bring your pet to our clinic for essential veterinary care that can’t safely or feasibly be delayed.

Here’s what that includes:

  • Care for sick and injured pets
  • Emergency care
  • Rechecks for follow-up and ongoing treatment
  • Puppy and kitten wellness visits for essential vaccinations
  • Rabies vaccinations required by state law
  • Required recurring visits for medicines such as Cytopoint, Adequan and ProHeart and fluids for kidney disease

Surgeries and Dental Procedures

As directed by our governor, we are doing our part to conserve personal protective equipment—masks, gloves and gowns—in support of our counterparts in human medicine.

As long as this vital protective gear remains in short supply, we are rescheduling elective surgeries and dental procedures for later in the year.

Our doctors are examining and diagnosing patients and advising clients case-by-case on whether a recommended procedure can be safely deferred without impacting the pet’s wellbeing and quality of life. If it can’t be deferred, we will encourage you to schedule an essential procedure sooner rather than later.

Preventive Care Exams and Vaccines for Adult Pets

Essential preventive care exams and routine vaccination boosters for adults pets, other than rabies vaccines, can be safely postponed for a short time, but not indefinitely!

As always, for most adult pets, we recommend annual preventive care exams, including heartworm checks. For older pets and those with serious chronic health conditions, we recommend more frequent exams.

If you’re not sure when your pet is due for an exam and vaccines, call the clinic at (317) 852-3323 to find out and discuss options. If your pet needs prescriptions refilled before you can schedule an exam, our doctors may be able to prescribe a limited quantity of some medications to see your pet through the coronavirus crisis.

Our doctors will assess your pet’s situation and prescribe as needed to assure the pet’s safety and wellbeing—typically prescribing a one-month supply at a time until you can bring your pet for an exam.

For heartworm preventives, if your dog has missed more than one or two monthly doses, a heartworm blood test will be needed before we can safely restart the prescription. If you’ve forgotten or fallen behind on monthly heartworm preventive doses, call the clinic at (317) 852-3323 to schedule a test.

Curbside 2.0

Our curbside service protocol has been working well, and we greatly appreciate your cooperation with this “new normal” intended to protect all our clients and staff from the coronavirus. We plan to continue allowing only staff inside the clinic for the foreseeable future.

Now that we have some experience with curbside service, we’ve done a bit of fine-tuning. Here’s how it works now:

  • Call in advance to make an appointment for your pet’s visit.
  • To make check-in as efficient as possible, a technician will call you before the visit to discuss your pet’s history and the reason for the appointment. As time permits, we are normally making these calls the afternoon before morning appointments and the morning before afternoon appointments.
  • When you arrive for the appointment, call the front desk at (317) 852-3323 to let us know you’ve arrived in our parking lot.
  • A technician will come to your car and bring your pet into the clinic for examination and treatment.
  • Cats must be in a secure carrier—not loose in your vehicle. We provide secure leads for dogs.
  • Our staff will not reach into your vehicle for your pet. We’re asking you to place cat carriers on the ground by your vehicle for the staff member to pick up or stand with your dog on a leash by your vehicle until the staff member secures the slip lead and you can safely hand the dog off.
  • Unless it’s a drop-off appointment or special arrangements have been made in advance and approved by the veterinarian, we expect clients to remain in their vehicles in our parking lot throughout the appointment.
  • All communication concerning diagnosis, treatment options and check-out will take place on the phone.
  • At the conclusion of the appointment, a staff member will return your pet, along with any prescribed medicines or foods, to your car.
  • We ask that you practice social distancing throughout your visit to our clinic, refraining from any physical contact and maintaining a minimum distance of six feet from our team members and other clients who may be waiting in the parking lot.

If you need to visit the clinic to pick up food or medicine, we ask for more than the usual 24-hours’ advance notice during these challenging times. Call well ahead of time, charge the merchandise to your credit or debit card, and we will let you know when your order will be ready. Call the front desk when you arrive for pickup and we will bring it out to you.

You can also order supplies for delivery directly to your home from our online VetSource store.

If You Are Ill

If you have an appointment scheduled and are experiencing coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue or fever, or if you know you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19, we ask that you call us to reschedule.

If your pet has a medical emergency and you are ill, we strongly encourage you to have a healthy family member or trusted friend bring your pet to the clinic for treatment.

If you are unable to make these arrangements, call us to let us know you’re ill and discuss options for getting your pet the care needed while protecting our team.

Thank you!

Personally and on behalf of the entire Brownsburg Animal Clinic team, I want to thank you for continuing to entrust us with your pet’s care and for collaborating with us to keep all the humans involved safe as well!

We’re all in this together, and we appreciate your support!

Sincerely,

Timea H. Brady's signature

Timea H. Brady, DVM
Owner, Brownsburg Animal Clinic

P.S. We’re receiving more than the usual number of phone calls from clients these days. We appreciate your patience as our team works as efficiently as possible to field your questions while handling our appointments and other patient care responsibilities.

Man on sofa with cat

COVID-19 March 25 Update

Now that Indiana’s stay-at-home order is in effect at least through Monday, April 6, you may be wondering how the order impacts your access to veterinary care for you pets.

The good news: In Indiana, veterinary clinics have been declared essential businesses, and even with the stay-at-home order in place, Hoosiers are allowed to seek medical care for pets, should they need it.

The Indiana State Board of Animal Health has provided us with further clarification, advising, “Veterinarians may continue to provide care and treatment to animals as a matter of health and welfare.”

That means Brownsburg Animal Clinic is here for you! We’re open for business and, as mandated, continuing to maintain the health of our patients.

As always, if your pet is sick or injured, call us at (317) 852-3323 to ask for advice and if needed, schedule an appointment. If you’re not sure if you should bring your pet in, call anyway and we will help you decide.

Vaccines and boosters—especially rabies vaccinations—should continue on schedule for pets of all ages.

We are still limiting access to our building to staff only. If you have a scheduled or drop-off appointment, call the front desk at (317) 852-3323 to let us know you’ve arrived in our parking lot. A technician will come out to your car and bring your pet into the clinic for examination and treatment. Please be sure your cat is in a secure carrier. We’ll provide leads for dogs. All communication and check-out will take place on the phone before a staff member returns your pet, along with any prescribed medicines or foods, to your car.

It’s still critically important to continue giving your pet heartworm and flea and tick preventives, along with any other prescribed medicines or diet. If you need to visit the clinic to pick up food or medicine, we will deliver it to your car. Just call the front desk, charge the merchandise to your credit or debit card, and we will bring it out to you. You can also order supplies from our online VetSource store.

We are mindful of the nationwide shortage of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), including masks and gloves used by all health care providers. We have enough PPE on hand to care for our patients in the immediate future, but we may postpone some elective procedures to conserve these supplies until it becomes clear when we can replenish them.

So far, thankfully, we all are symptom-free, and the team is under strict orders to stay at home if they experience fever, cough or shortness of breath.

We are continuing to stay at least six feet away from clients and fellow staff members and following stepped-up sanitation and hand-washing protocols.

The Board of Animal Health has prepared guidelines for pet owners who have been or may have been exposed to the coronavirus. If you believe you or someone in your household has COVID-19, I encourage you to read this document and, as the letter recommends, call us before bringing your pet in to the clinic.

For those of you who are concerned that your pet could contract or spread the coronavirus, there is currently no evidence that animals can do so. The College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign has provided detailed information about pets and COVID-19 on their website.

If you have any questions about your pet’s health and whether or not you need to visit the clinic, please feel free to call the front desk at (317) 852-3323. We are happy to advise you and, if needed, schedule an appointment.

And for those of you who are working from home, we hope this additional time with your pet will make your human-animal bond even stronger!

Timea H. Brady's signature

Timea H. Brady, DVM
Owner, Brownsburg Animal Clinic

P.S. On weekdays we are closing one hour early—at 5:00 p.m., with the last appointment at 4:30.

COVID-19

How We Are Further Reducing COVID-19 Risk

Dear Valued Client,

Rest assured, we are still open and here to care for your sick and injured pets as well as those with ongoing medical conditions.

However, we are making a few key changes to our routines to further reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Based on the latest recommendations from the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we will shift to all curbside service, effective Friday, March 20. That means only the clinic staff will be allowed inside our building.

If you have a scheduled or drop-off appointment, call the front desk at (317) 852-3323 to let us know you’ve arrived in our parking lot. A technician will come out to your car and bring your pet into the clinic for examination and treatment.

All communication and check-out will take place on the phone before a staff member returns your pet, along with any prescribed medicines or foods, to your car.

While essential puppy and kitten wellness visits for vaccines will continue on schedule, we will reschedule wellness visits for adult dogs for after April 6.

If you need to visit the clinic to pick up food or medicine, we will deliver it to your car. Just call the front desk, charge the merchandise to your credit or debit card, and we will bring it out to you.

We appreciate your understanding and cooperation as together, we get through these difficult times.

Timea H. Brady's signature

Timea H. Brady, DVM
Owner, Brownsburg Animal Clinic

Hill's canned food recall

Hill’s Canned Food Recall Expanded

On Wednesday, March 20, 2019, Hill’s Pet Nutrition expanded its recall to include several additional Hill’s brand canned food varieties and lots because of excess vitamin D.

May 18, 2019, update: Hill’s has added 12.5-ounce cans of Hill’s Prescription Diet I/D Canine Chicken & Vegetable Stew, lot number 102020T21, to the recall list.

If you have any canned Hill’s brand pet food on hand, please visit the Hill’s web site for more information, including a list of all recalled canned food varieties, SKU and date and lot codes. Newly-added products and SKUs are indicated.

We have checked our inventory and have none of the recalled products in stock. We recommend all our clients who have Hill’s canned food on hand do the same.

Please discard any uneaten food you’ve already opened and return any unopened cans of food listed on the recall chart to the place where you purchased it for a full refund.

So far, we have not seen any patients with symptoms of excessive exposure to vitamin D, and we appreciate that Hill’s is being proactive in addressing the issue. Based on decades of experience with Hill’s, we remain confident of the quality of their prescription diets and consider them a reputable, reliable supplier. We plan to continue to prescribe Hill’s diets to our patients as needed and will continue to feed Hill’s products to our own pets.

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.

 

Timea H. Brady, DVM, and her dogs

Our One-Star Review

Recently, Brownsburg Animal Clinic received its first one-star online review. We discovered it among our eight five-star ratings on Google, and it dropped our overall rating to 4.5. Our perfect 5.0, based on 37 reviews, still stands on Facebook. We also have three 5-star ratings on Yelp.

The one-star review was from someone whose cat had died, and the reviewer blamed the drugs the cat was taking–Cerenia, used to treat vomiting in dogs and cats, and “Covenina,” most likely a reference to Convenia, which we prescribe to treat urinary tract infections in cats.

The reviewer also blamed us. The rest of the review criticized our veterinarians personally as “archaic” and “old school young but stupid” doctors who might be able to treat dogs, but “cats not so much!”

The review concluded with a suggestion that we fire our “partner.”

Naturally, we found this review distressing. Our first impulse was to respond to it online, but upon further reflection, we decided it was better to flag it for review by Google, which prohibits personal attacks in its online reviews, and hope it will be taken down.

Meanwhile, we want to express our sympathy to the client for the loss of his or her cherished cat. Every one of us at the clinic has lost pets of our own, and we understand the pain, grief and yes, sometimes even anger, that are often part of the recovery process.

We also want to note that the drugs mentioned as “killers” are both safe, highly effective medications that have been in use for the past 5 to 10 years–hardly “archaic.” If your pet is taking either of these drugs and you have concerns, please call us to discuss the benefits and risks of the drugs for your pet.

Finally, we want to assure our clients that all of our doctors and medical staff are well-qualified, dedicated general practitioners who follow best practices and protocols in both feline and canine medicine. As small animal practitioners, we keep up with the veterinary medical literature concerning both cats and dogs, and all of us meet all continuing education requirements. We are capable and confident of our ability to provide high-quality medical care for your pet. When more specialized care is called for, we do not hesitate to refer you to the appropriate specialist.

We hope all our clients will feel free to discuss any issues they have about the care we provide in our clinic. If you have a question or concern with our diagnoses or treatment recommendations, we encourage you to discuss it at the time of your visit. While our veterinarians are not always available to take phone calls for much of the day, we are happy to return calls to answer your questions. So please, leave us a message and we will contact you as soon as we are able.

Thank you to all the clients who have awarded us top ratings. We dedicate ourselves to continuing to deserve your trust and loyalty!

A black Labrador retriever sniffing a toy duck floating in a pond

Estate Plans to Cover Your Pets

When it comes to estate planning, most of us update our wills and name beneficiaries of insurance policies and retirement funds so that our heirs and favorite charities will be provided for.

But what about our pets?

What will happen to your pets if they outlive you? Have you considered including your four-legged loved ones in your estate plans?

Depending on your family, financial and tax situation, you may provide for your pet’s care and support within the provisions of your will or in a trust document. For many people, the best approach is to execute a revocable trust incorporating provisions for pet care. Here’s why:

  • A revocable trust can easily be revised to add or remove a pet.
  • With a revocable trust, the assets you allot for your pet(s) are not tied up in probate, which can take a great deal of time and leave your pets without care.
  • Generally, assets in a revocable trust are not taxed as part of the estate.

Should you change your will or create a revocable trust to provide for your pet(s) in your estate plans? Only an attorney familiar with your situation and estate planning law knows for sure.

As veterinarians, we can’t provide legal advice, but if you are concerned about providing for your pet’s welfare in your estate plans, we encourage you to to ask a competent, licensed attorney.