Category Archives: General Interest

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.

 

Dental Health Month 2017 Ends Tuesday!

Here we are, nearly all the way through National Pet Dental Health Month, and all our available dental appointments are filled. We’ve even extended the discount through the first couple of weeks of March to meet the demand!

Thanks so much to  our clients who care enough about their pets’ health to schedule a dental cleaning! They will receive a 10% discount and, while supplies last, a “dental goodie bag.”

We also offer a 10% discount off dental cleanings year-round if, during an annual wellness exam, we recommend a dental cleaning and you schedule an appointment for your pet within 30 days. The goodie bags are available only in February (and until we run out in March), but we offer the discount to encourage excellent dental health care every month of the year.

The benefits of the dental procedure in our office can be supplemented by home-care. To give you an idea of what’s involved, here’s a short video about dental home-care for dogs from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University.

Here’s one about how to brush your cat’s teeth.

For your convenience, we carry the dental health care products shown in both videos in our online store.

Cal’s Dental Procedure

With all of February dedicated to dental health care for pets, I want to give you a behind-the-scenes look at my own boxer–General Stubs Calhoun–and his recent visit to the clinic for a dental cleaning and exam. I hope this post will not only answer any questions you may have about what goes on during a dental procedure, but also show you that I personally consider dental health care essential for all pets, including my own.

Cal turned seven this past July. It had been two years since his last dental cleaning.

As a boxer, Cal is at higher-than-average risk for a condition called gingival hyperplasia, causing his gums to proliferate and grow so extensively as to cover his teeth. Cal has this condition, so in addition to cleaning his teeth two years ago, we did a gingival resection, in which we removed the excess gum tissue in several areas of his mouth. He recovered very nicely and had been doing just fine.

But several months ago, we noticed Cal was not chewing his rawhides the way he used to, and he had a slightly pungent odor to his breath. I did a physical exam, finding a little tartar and a few areas of gingival hyperplasia. I didn’t see any obvious signs of abscessed teeth. Still, I knew something was wrong, so I decided to bring him in for a complete dental exam, including full-mouth dental radiographs (x-rays).

The procedure started with the necessary preanesthetic blood work to make sure Cal had no underlying health issues that might make anesthesia too risky. Once we had Cal under anesthesia, we did our radiographs and found several fractured teeth. The fractures were below the gum line, so there was no way to see them–even with a regular dental cleaning and probing–without the x-rays.

We extracted the cracked teeth and resected the overgrown gums. We scaled and polished the remaining teeth.

Cal has recovered very well. He did need to eat a soft diet for about 10 days, but after that, resumed eating his usual dry kibbles. And he’s back to enjoying his rawhides!

I understand it can be a little scary to consider putting an older pet like Cal under anesthesia for a dental cleaning. That’s why we take measures to minimize the risks.

  • We require blood work within the past six months to be sure all organs are functioning well and able to handle the medications we use.
  • We use the safest anesthesia available.
  • All pets have intravenous catheters and receive fluids throughout the procedure.
  • While one technician cleans the teeth and makes the x-rays, another focuses throughout the procedure on monitoring the patient’s oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, electrocardiogram, heart rate, blood pressure and temperature using monitoring equipment very similar to what you would find in a human hospital.

Still on the fence about scheduling your pet’s dental appointment? Here are some additional resources from the American Veterinary Medical Association, including links to a dental health quiz, videos to help you teach your pet to accept home tooth-brushing and even more information about the “whys” of dental health care for your companion animal.

If you are ready to schedule a professional cleaning, contact us now to schedule an appointment. Remember, February is Dental Health Month, so we are offering a 10% discount off our regular price plus a free dental goody bag to take home to all who schedule dental procedures in February. Spaces are limited, so call today.

Holiday Gifts for Pets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, just for the fun of it, here’s our favorite YouTube video of pets opening Christmas presents.

Happy holidays from the Brownsburg Animal Clinic family to yours!

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.

Heartworm Prevention is a Year-Round Commitment

One crisp fall day last week, 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.

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!

Managing Your Dog’s Noise Anxiety

July 4 is upon us, and chances are at least 40 percent of our canine patients will experience noise anxiety during the celebratory fireworks. Summer thunderstorms can trigger similar fears, causing panic and dangerous reactions, destruction of furniture and fixtures, self-inflicted injuries and frantic escapes.

That’s why the busiest day of the year for intake of runaway dogs in animal shelters is July 5.

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.

If noise makes your dog anxious, we can help.

Home remedies we recommend in mild to moderate cases include playing 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, ideally in a windowless interior room, and ride out the storm together.

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 first step is an office visit to assess the severity of the anxiety and discuss treatment options with you.

We’ve just received our first shipment of Sileo, a promising new drug  approved by the FDA to treat noise anxiety. Visit the drug manufacturer’s web site to learn more about noise anxiety and how this new drug can help.

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. Call to schedule an appointment today.

 

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.

HIPPA 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.

But in Indiana, your pet’s medical records and information about its medical condition are confidential. In fact, we cannot release your pet’s records without a signed authorization from you to do so.

We have a multi-purpose form that includes an authorization to release your pet’s records when you ask us to. You can also use this form to notify us of changes in your address or phone number. For your convenience, we encourage you to download and complete the form and return it to our office so we may respond promptly any time you ask us to share your pet’s medical records.

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.