Canine Influenza

There has been a lot in the news lately about the outbreak of Canine Influenza in the Chicagoland area. It has been mostly in dogs that are in community situations such as boarding facilities, grooming salons and dog parks. While a lot of information regarding vaccination has been issued there is evidence that the current Influenza strain may not be the same as the one the vaccine protects against. If it is the same strain then the vaccine is effective in most dogs HOWEVER, it requires a series of 2 vaccinations , 2-3 weeks apart and then protective levels do not develop for 6-10 weeks therefore if you vaccinate your pet now it will take 2-3 months before it is protected. The current outbreak most likely will have passed. If the strain is not the H2N8 strain then the vaccine likely will be of no protection.
So, what to do? First of all avoid community settings where your dog is likely to contract the illness. Be mindful that your dog, even though it stays home, can contract it from your neighbor’s dog through the fence if it is infected. The incubation period is 2-5 days, the illness lasts 1-3 weeks and your pet is contagious for 4 weeks after illness so isolation is very important.
Influenza in most dogs appears as a severe form of “kennel cough” with nose and eye discharge and a loud, honking cough. Low grade fevers are common. In some dogs, high fever (107) has occurred and some dogs develop pneumonia. It is not highly fatal but some deaths do occur.
If your dog is showing signs of respiratory illness, contact our office. We will set a time to check your dog. When you arrive we ask that you keep your dog IN YOUR CAR and we will come to the car to check it first. We will then give specific instructions from that point on.
To date I think I may have seen our first case last Saturday. We have sent samples to the lab for identification. Go to the following link for more detailed information about Canine Influenza

Thundershirts……………Do They Work?

Many of you have probably heard of “Thundershirts” for use in dogs with anxiety issues.  Do they work?  We have found that in most cases they do give the dog some relief from the anxiety.  The shirt works by supplying even contact with the body over the top of the shoulders and the chest cavity.  These areas of the body, when gentle even pressure is applied, does tend to exert a calming effect upon the wearer.   They are appropriate for noise fears such as thunderstorms and fireworks but they are also helpful for other anxiety inducing situations for example, separation anxiety.

Do not expect the Thundershirt to work miracles.  Your pet should experience some relief but may not be totally relaxed as it would in a non-anxiety inducing situation.  In addition to using the thundershirt, behavior modification exercises may be needed as well to retrain you dog how to act in these stressful situations.  A very good resourse/book is Victoria Stillwell’s “It’s Me or The Dog”.  This is an excellent training guide for basic training and it also has a section dealing with problem behaviors.  Also remember that Thundershirts have a money back guarantee.  Our experience with Thundershirts has been that they are 70 o 75% effective.  So if your dog is afraid of storms and fireworks, consider using a Thundershirt.

Collars……………how tight is too tight?

How tight should my pet’s collar be?  Very good question.  Another question is how often or when should my pet wear a collar?  Are cat collar and dog collar suggetions the same?

Let’s talk about dogs first.  A good general rule of thumb is it should be tight enough not to slip over their head and come off but not too tight to irritate the skin or rub off the hair.  Ususally you should be able to fit 1 to 2 fingers between the neck and the collar when the collar is in position.   When you put a collar on your puppy you must remember to check it at least once or twice a week.  Puppies go through rapid growth spurts and you must let the collar out to allow for the increased size of the puppy.  Too many times I have seen dogs that had a collar put on as a puppy and it was never adjusted resulting in the collar causing serious injury to the dog and requiring surgery to remove the embedded collar.

I do not recommed the “clip/quick coupler” collars when walking a dog.  Over time these plastic clips get worn and if your dogs hits the end of the leash, these snaps give way and the collar comes off.  Always use a secure buckle collar when walking your dog.  I do not recommend dogs wearing collars all the time, especially those with tags attached to them.  These tags have been know to get stuck in crates, floor heating/air conditioning grates  and if you are not there, your pet can be severely injured and even some have choked to death.  My rule of thumb is if you are not monitoring your pet, then take the collar off.  You put it on for your pet to go outside and then take it off when it returns to the house.  This is the safest in the long run.

Some dog breeds will slip out of any collar if their neck is thick and the same width as their skull.  Breeds such as Greyhounds, Whippets, Pugs, Bulldogs and similar breeds will slip out of even the tightest buckle collars.  Slip leads are designed for these breeds.  They are comfortable and will gently tighten if pressue is put on the lead/collar.  Some of the very small breeds or those with very thick necks do better with a harneess.

Collars and cats…………..this is another story.  Always use a stretch collar for a cat.  Cats crawl through tight spaces and climb and also can slip while climbing.  If they do not have a stretchable collar then once again they can hang themselves and choke.  Whether they are inside or outside, collars can be a hazard for cats.  Make sure the collar will stretch easily enough to come off the cat with minimal pressure.  Again remember, if you have a young cat or kitten you must constantly evaluate it for proper fit.

Hunting collars are safety equipment for hunting dogs.

Another safety reminder.  When you pick your pet up from grooming or boarding always double check the fit of the collar.  If someone else has put it on it may be too loose and can easily slip off and your pet could get loose and seriously injured or killed.

I also recommend all pets be microchipped for more secure, permanent, traceable identification.  A collar and tags are not sufficient.  They come loose or fall off and the identification is lost.  Most shelters and veterinary offices have microchip scanners so that lost animals can be readily reunited with their owners.  It is a relatively painless installation process or it can be implanted when your pet is asleep when it is neutered or spayed.  We relocate one or two pets a year via their microchip information.

Hopefully these guidelines are helpful so that you can have a safe collar and one that fits properly.

Aging Pets……How Old is “Old”?

      Most of us remember being told that 1 year of a dog or cats life is equal to 7 years of a human’s life.  While this averages out it is not a direct 1 for  1 correlation.  Dogs and cats mature very fast so that by 6 months of age most of them can reproduce.  By year 1 to 2 they are comparable to humans in their 20’s to 30’s  The aging process then levels out for a number of years but toward the later years of our pet’s life the rate of decline is quite accelerated.  Another factor affecting the aging process is the size of the animal.  Toy breed dogs and most cats can live well into their mid to late teens if well cared for.  Giant or large breed dogs are good to make it to double digit ages in many cases.  Therefore a 6 year old Great Dane is much “older” physically than a 6 year old Chihuahua.

     As our pets age there are a number of diseases and conditions that can impact them and shorten their lives and decrease their quality of life.  As is true in human medicine, early detection allows for early intervention thus helping to prevent serious harm and/or slow the progression of the disease and thus increasing your pet’s quality of life and adding to the number of years you enjoy your pet.  This is a key reason we recommend screening health tests for your pet.  Think of these tests as an “internal physical examination” of your pet.  We can evaluate organ function and screen for many of the problems facing pets in their later years.  One frequently asked question is why do I need the tests done every 6 to 12 months?  In the later years of their life your pet will age in 1 calendar year as much as a 75 to 80 year old person will age in 5 or 6 calendar years.  If you stop to think about this, a lot of decline can happen to our pets in a matter of months since their rate of decline is much faster when compared to people.  Therefore, most senior pets should have routine “internal physicals” minimally every 12 months, more often if they have a chronic compensating disease like diabetes, kidney insufficiency, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, chronic arthritis, liver disease, etc.   A health plan formulated to meet the needs of your aging pets will provide a higher quality of life for them and add years to the time you have to enjoy them.  Also, early intervention in most disease processes will minimize or slow the damage from disease and thus help avoid those major health emergencies pets face when these diseases go undetected.

So, how old is your pet?  Think about this information and if your small or medium dog or your cat is  7-8 years old then they are a senior pet.  If your large or giant dog is 5-6 they are entering their senior years as well.  We encourage all owners of senior pets to get them on a regular plan of preventive health care to maintain them as happy, healthy and active for as many years as possible.

Tick Season Is Here

Spring is here and along with it comes tick season.  Ticks are activated by cool moist weather and they harbor many diseases that can threaten the health of your pets.  Now is the time to use tick prevention medications.  The topically applied medications are excellent repellents in addition to killing the ticks should they attach.  Always check your dog or cat for ticks after it comes in from being outside, even if they are in your own back yard.  Always check yourself for ticks as well.  Ticks can drop from trees and shrubs onto your pet.  If you find a tick attatched, remove it being careful to remove the head as well.  Tweezers work well.  Cleanse the area with soap and water and apply an antiseptic ointment such as neosporin.  Observe the area daily for 4-5 days.  If you notice any increased redness or swelling, consult your veterinarian.  Once the weather warms and gets dryer, ticks generally are not much of a problem but then we move into flea season.  In the autumn months there can be a resurgence of ticks when the weather again turns cool and damp (September/October).  Year round protection from fleas and ticks is the best and also have your pet tested for heartworms and tick borne diseases annually to insure they are not infested with serious, life threatening organisms.

Crown Point Vet offers unique services

Here at Oak Hill Animal Clinic, we offer unique veterinary services for Crown Point, IN.

Did you know that there is a new protocol provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association, for vaccinating your dog or cat? They are recommending vaccinating every 3 years for the core vaccines. The reason…we have been over vaccinating our pets. It has been discovered that the core vaccines last much longer than one year and that giving vaccinations that are not needed can overstimulate the immune system and may lead to diseases such as allergies, auto-immune diseases and even cancer. In many dogs the core vaccines will last for 7 – 9 years, it is unknown which dogs will be protected for that long, which is why we offer titer testing.

A titer test is a simple blood test that determines the level of antibodies present in your dog. Antibodies are what protect your dog from the diseases that your dog is vaccinated against. If there is a level of antibodies then your dog is protected if not then your dog needs to be revaccinated. We offer titer testing for a reasonable cost, less than a full compliment of vaccine booster, because your dog deserves the best wellness care that can be provided.

Also unique to our Crown Point office is Dr. Daniel Beatty, a certified Animal Chiropractor. Dr Beatty is a veterinarian with 12 years experience in chiropractic care and is one of only 600 certified animal chiropractors in the world. He specializes in canine sport medicine however he does treat many pets for injuries and chronic conditions such as hip dysplasia, chronic disc disease and arthritis. The goal is to make the animal feel more comfortable and improve the health of the nervous system by improving the movement and flexibility of the joints and spine.

We also offer state of the art radiology with the use of our digital xray unit. The quality of standard xray units does not compare with the amazing capabilities and quality of digital xrays. The clarity and convenience of digital radiographs are what makes providing this service a must for any high quality veterinary practice. If a consult is needed we can easily place the images on a disc and mail it off, we can give you a copy of the images, or for the most convenience we can place them on a secure website for the consulting veterinarian to view them.

I am sure you can see we offer some very unique services not only here in Crown Point but for any veterinary practice. Schedule an appointment today and Experience the Difference!

Icy Morning

We all woke up to terrible ice covering everything!  Just a reminder to use pet and child safe ice melt products and even when you use those it is still important to rinse and dry the paws of your pets after they have walked through these areas.  If they lick the “salt” from their paws it potentially could irritate their mouth.   Additionally the “salts” can irritate the paws as well. 

Most of the staff was unable to make it to work this morning.  We called our scheduled appontments and moved them to this afternoon or another day.  What normally takes me 30 minutes to travel to work took 1 hour and 20 minutes.  I did make it ok only to arrive at Oak Hill “Skating Rink”.  Our parking lot was / is solid ice.  They have yet to salt it but I am told the crew is on their way.  I was able to use our sidewalk salt to cover the walks and some of the parking area.  When I left to go to the feed store for more salt I had to make 2 attempts to leave.  The first one found me sliding down hill toward the snow bank at the edge of the parking lot.  Good thing the bank is there otherwise I would have slid into some trees. 


Do be careful out there.

Happy Holidays

Came in to do treatments this morning and fill the bird feeders and feed the fish in the aquariums.  It is such a beautiful day, even though it is cold again.  The snow and the bright sunshine combine to make it a truly beautiful sight.  The birds are really eating a lot of seed in this cold winter but we enjoy watching their antics.  Every window has a bird feeder in view and staff and clients (and even a lot of the patients) enjoy watching the birds.  We had an 8 point buck and a doe come up to the clinic last Friday and help themselves to the seed as well.  What a pleasure to come to “work” and enjoy the beauty of God’s creatures especially at this time of year.  I wish you a happy holiday season and healthy prosperous new year!

Welcome to Oak Hill Animal Clinic

The Doctors and staff wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season.  Please watch that you don’t spoil your pets with too much holiday snacks/food.  This can cause serious digestive upsets and sometimes lead to serious illness requiring hospitaliztion.  Just use good common sense. 

Happy Holidays!!

Dr. Walsh