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Face the Fears

Montana is known for the bi-polar weather patterns. Afternoon storms are exceptionally common during the summer months and provide a much-needed relief from the hot afternoon sun. However, many dogs do not appreciate the thunder clap and flickering lightning that mother-nature often provides. While anxiety and fear are common, it doesn’t mean we are helpless in our pet’s unease. There are several options to help with noise aversion in dogs.

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Behavior Training- treating the symptoms will not always relieve the anxiety until the under-lying issue is resolved. De-sensitizing your pet to thunder or fireworks requires long-term dedication but creating a safe space for your pet to retreat is a good place to start.

Pros: natural, positive reinforcement, creates good habits for storm aversion

Cons: Time intensive if training with a professional, slow progression

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Thunder Jacket- the idea behind it is like swaddling an infant. The hugging effect can calm some pets.

Pros: Easy to use, fast acting, non-medical

Cons: Not always effective- especially in extreme cases, not for long-term use

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Anti-anxiety Medications- Alprazolam, Trazadone, Sileo are commonly used medications that can be given to help your pet feel more relaxed.

Pros: Effective, easy-to-give pill/gel formsDrugItem_3530

Cons: Needs to be given a couple of hours before the stimulus, medication can only be prescribed by your veterinarian

 

When pets are scared, they can react in different ways. Some dogs have been reported to run away from home, even injuring themselves, when afraid. We love our pets and want to keep them happy and safe. Be sure to keep your pet’s identification tags and microchip up-to-date in case of emergency or loss. Your veterinarian can help you to decide what course of action would be most beneficial for your pet. 

Mutant and Proud

Is your dog a Mutant? Not like Professor X from X-men. I mean, does your dog have a mutation to the MDR1 gene (but perhaps if we were talking X-men we could call this particular mutant MD Resisto)! The MDR (multi-drug resistance) gene is responsible for protecting the brain by transporting potentially harmful chemicals away. The MDR1 mutation allows the drugs to build up in the brain, where they can cause ne urological reactions including disorientation, seizures, and blindness. Your veterinarian may discuss the MDR1 gene mutation in more depth with you if your dog is one of the following breeds:

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The MDR1 gene mutation makes affected herding breed dogs especially sensitive to the negative effects of certain medications that are typically tolerated including common drugs like Ivermectin and Imodium (loperamide).  Ivermectin… and herding dogs… It seems to go hand in hand, doesn’t it? Herding dogs are often found where there are livestock. Ivermectin is a common intestinal parasite dewormer used for livestock. This means that if your canine assistant is an MDR1 mutant, you will need to take extra precautions when deworming your livestock. If the affected dog were to ingest some of the horse/livestock Ivermectin dewormer paste or the manure from the recently de-wormed animal, symptoms of an Ivermectin toxicity could present shortly after. While equine dewormers contain high doses of Ivermectin, the ivermectin dose in heartworm preventatives, like Iverhart and Heartgard, are so low that they would not pose a risk to a dog with the mutation.

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Lucky for us, this gene mutation can be tested for. Talk to your veterinarian about testing your herding breed or mixed breed dog for the MDR1 gene. A quick cheek swab or blood sample can be submitted to Washington State University for testing. Results are sent to you and a copy to your veterinarian in 1-2 weeks. The MDR1 gene is also tested for in the common canine DNA test: Wisdom Panel. This information will help to make lifestyle choices and medical decisions based on your dog’s results.

Normal/Normal Results: These dogs do not carry the mutation, and will not pass on the mutation to their offspring. These dogs would not be expected to experience unexpected adverse drug reactions to normal doses of Ivermectin, loperamide, and some anticancer drugs.

 Mutant/Mutant Results: These dogs carry the mutation and can not pass on a normal gene to their offspring. These dogs would be expected to experience toxicity after normal doses of loperamide, some anticancer drugs, and high doses of Ivermectin.

Normal/Mutant Results: These dogs carry the mutation and may pass the mutant gene to their offspring. For this reason, we do not recommend mutant/mutant dogs be used for breeding purposes. These dogs may experience toxicity after normal doses of loperamide, some anticancer drugs, and high doses of Ivermectin.

Visit the Washington State University website for a list of problem drugs for MDR1 gene mutation dogs: http://vcpl.vetmed.wsu.edu/problem-drugs

 

AAHA Accredited!

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We recently became accredited with the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) in March 2018! This symbol means that we have chosen to undergo regular evaluations to maintain a higher standard of veterinary care. Not every hospital puts in the work and chooses to earn this designation, but we’re proud to say we do!

Check out more about AAHA at https://www.aaha.org/

Pet Nutrition Talk

Bring your questions to the Pet Nutrition talk at Heart of the Valley on Thursday, April 26th at 7pm. Dr. Scott Carter from Hill’s pet nutrition will be discussing pet food labels and pet nutrition. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

 

 

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Bold Briggs- A survivor that beat the odds

What are the first items you think of when you hear ‘pet toxicity’? Chocolate.. Mouse poison.. Antifreeze? All of which are correct. But have you thought about less obvious pet poisons? Think about human medications: Ibuprofen, thyroid medications, cold medicine, or household plants: Lilies, daffodils, tulips. What about a sago palm?

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You may not even know what a sago palm looks like, however these plants are deadly to pets. Sago palms contain cycasin, which is the primary toxin agent resulting in intensive liver damage in dogs. If any part of a sago palm is ingested the effect on the gastrointestinal tract and central nervous system can be immediately observed from 15 minutes to several hours afterwards. Even with aggressive treatment, the survival rate is bleak. Enter Briggs…

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Briggs initially came to see us as a healthy 5-month-old puppy. He loved to socialize with people and play outside. One evening Briggs found a sago palm to snack on in the compost pile and within one hour was vomiting and lethargic. Briggs’s owner called the Pet Poison Hotline shortly afterwards to inquire about a potential toxicity. Pet Poison Hotline instructed to bring Briggs in for hospitalization. Bloodwork revealed that Briggs’s liver had already been compromised by the sago palm. Dr. Karyn began treating Briggs right away with multiple medications to buffer the stomach, support the liver, and reduce the nausea. After 3 weeks of treatment and bloodwork, Briggs was getting worse. He began exhibiting other symptoms of a sago palm toxicity: diarrhea, lack of appetite, and fluid accumulation in the abdomen.

Briggs’s owner never gave up on him and continued to purse treatment options through Dr. Karyn. Over the course of 6 months, with intensive care and a little luck, he got better. It has now been 2 years since his sago palm ingestion and Briggs has grown into a strong and happy dog.

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Recognize Common Poisons for Dogs & Cats

Human Food: Chocolate, grapes, xylitol (common in sugar-free gum), alcohol

Human medications: Ibuprofen, prescription medications, cold medicine

Pesticides and Rodenticides: Remember that rodents that ingest rodenticides are still harmful to pets that eat them

Plants: Azaleas, tulips, daffodils, sago palms, lilies

Chemicals: bleach, antifreeze, engine coolant, etc.

 

While it seems impossible to keep track of every potential poison, it is important to know what steps to take after your pet has ingested a poison.

1.       Note what your pet ingested, how much, and when. Also monitor your pet’s behavior.

2.       Call a pet toxicity hotline or your veterinarian to determine risk for toxicity.

 

For a complete list of toxic and non-toxic plants for dogs, cats, and horses visit:

https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/dogs-plant-list

Max says Bye-Bye to Bad Breath

Max is a spirited 8-year-old Dachshund. He came in to see us for dental concerns, including bad breath and tartar buildup on his teeth.

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80% of pets have dental disease by 3 years of age.  Small dogs, like max, are at an even higher risk for developing dental disease.  This is due in part to differences in the alignment of teeth as well as chewing habits found smaller breeds.  If your pet is experiencing pain, often exhibited by refusing to eat, has changed chewing habits or has bad breath, then dental disease is likely the culprit.  In Max’s case, his doctor recommended a dental cleaning. 

 

Max was scheduled for a dental cleaning, which is done under general anesthesia.  The morning of surgery, Max arrived bright and early, around 7am. He was received by one of our highly qualified surgery technicians, who would care for him throughout the rest of the day and see to his every need.  He was   prepped for surgery- receiving an IV catheter to facilitate administration of fluids that would help Max maintain normal blood pressure, hydration, and recover quicker.  He was then moved into our dedicated dental suite, equipped with monitoring equipment and dental radiographs.  He was induced with an injectable anesthetic and maintained on an inhaled anesthetic and oxygen for the remainder of the procedure.

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The cleaning process includes ultrasonic scaling and hand scaling of the teeth to remove plaque and calculus.  Probing and measurement of tooth and associated periodontal pocket is done to assess gum and root health.  Radiographs are taken if any tooth appears compromised.  Finally, the teeth are polished, this discourages future bacteria buildup, leaving the teeth pearly white.

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You may be wondering why general anesthesia is necessary?  After all, wouldn’t it be safer for the patent to just due this under sedation?  The truth is, anesthesia when performed correctly is very safe. It is also necessary for the proper evaluation and cleaning of the teeth. Non-anesthetic cleanings do not allow for adequate probing or use of the ultrasonic scaler.  Sedated dental only allows for hand scaling, which can actually result in damage of the tooth enamel and does not allow the doctor to address any periodontal disease or extract teeth if needed. 

In some circumstances, dental x-rays are necessary for the veterinarian to determine the health of the tooth and surrounding bone. Extractions may be performed if there is radiographic evidence of disease. In Max’s case, a total of 9 teeth required extraction.  Losing this number of teeth may seem shocking, however patients seem relieved after extractions and are happier without a constant nagging toothache.

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Max was prescribed pain medication and antibiotics and was able to go home that evening.  A soft food diet was needed for 7 days while his extraction sites healed.  

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Along with his annual examination, Max’s preventative dental care now includes teeth brushing and a new diet.  Hill’s t/d Dental care diet encourages chewing and prevents tartar buildup. Tooth brushing was started slowly so that Max would willingly accept the feeling and process. He now enjoys the Vanilla Mint flavor pet enzymatic toothpaste! Human toothpaste should never be used on pets as it is not meant to be swallowed and can contain harmful ingredients. Another great option for oral health is enzymatic dental chews. Dental chews encourage chewing and contain ingredients that fight tartar buildup. However, it is important to understand that these home care products do not substitute a dental cleaning if it is needed. Talk to your veterinarian about other dental care options for your pet.

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Winter Time Colic- Signs, Causes, and Prevention

With the snow and cold here to stay, it is important as horse owners to recognize that colic doesn’t pay attention to the calendar. Awareness and preparation combined can help get you and your horses through the winter season colic free!

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First, let’s clarify what colic is. In a broad sense, colic is overall abdominal pain. There are various classifications that are more specific to the condition of the horse. Impaction based colic cases are the most common during the winter months. Impactions are caused by an accumulation of various feed materials in the large colon. This blockage can be difficult or even impossible to naturally pass waste sometimes. The severity of colic symptoms can be on a large spectrum, but there are some key signs to look for. With these signs in mind, it is important to have a good understanding of what is normal behavior for your horse.

 

  1. Laying down and/or rolling
  2. Kicking or biting at stomach
  3. Pawing
  4. Tail Swishing
  5. No appetite or thirst
  6. Pinned ears 


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These symptoms typically come in different combinations. Again, it is important to understand what normal behavior looks like with your horse to be able to point out strange behavior. 

The next few months of cold weather create a few common causes of impaction colics.

 

  1. Dehydration
    1. Horses aren’t as willing to walk to water in the cold
    2. Water tanks often freeze or break, check them daily
    3. Some horses are picky and need their water to be between 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Low Quality Forage
    1. Already low hydration means that food is more difficult to digest
    2. Hay and fiber heavy grain lacks the water amount that grass contains
  3. Added Stress Factors
    1. Dramatic changes in temperatures or weather conditions increases stress levels
    2. Avoid extreme changes in daily activity or environment



A combination of these three common causes fosters a potential colic environment. Fortunately, knowledge of the common causes and typical symptoms can allow us horse owners to be proactive with preventative measures.

 

First and foremost- make sure your water source is abundant and easily accessible. Using water heaters is ideal to keep the water at the optimal temperature between 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit. So put on your Carhartts’s and check your water daily to ensure your horse is able to comfortably get the recommended 10-12 gallons they need daily.

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Next, reevaluate your horses winter feeding program. The snow covered pastures causes us to add hay to our horses wintertime diet plan. Overall, hay contains much less water than normal pasture grass does. Low quality hay especially can be a large contributor to dehydration. Grain heavy diets are also dangerous. Fiber heavy grain decreases the water content in the large colon. Adding some water to your horses grain is a good way to help with their digestion.

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Lastly, actively take steps to keep stressful events to a minimum. Obviously we are not able to control all the stress factors life tends to throw at us. But, control the controllable. Weather changes and extreme weather conditions will naturally increase your horses stress levels. It’s important to minimize the added stressful situations we put our horses in.



Knowing the signs, causes, and taking preventative measures can allow you as an owner to feel more confident and responsible while making sure your horse is safe. If you are unsure, we recommend calling us when you first notice possible signs of potential colic.

 

Wishing you all a safe, fun, and colic free winter!

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2017 Year-in Review

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Paleo or McDonalds- choosing a diet for your pet

Our pet’s food can be more than a source of energy for our pet; it can influence weight as well as overall health. Just like us, our pet should have a well-balanced diet.  A well-balanced diet includes a combination of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, and water. Meat is a typical protein source, building muscle and promoting growth. Carbohydrates, the grains, are the source of quick energy. Oils make up the fat and provide stored energy. Vitamins and Minerals are necessary for body function and are specifically added.

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The ingredient list will specify which source of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals are in your pet’s diet. However, verbiage and unfamiliar products can make the ingredient list look like a foreign language. Here are some helpful tips:

·         The ingredients are listed in order by weight and should be listed by their common names. This can be deceiving when a meat product is the first listed ingredient as this will include the water weight. Meat meal may be seen listed first followed by many types of carbohydrates, like barley, sorghum, wheat. By breaking up the carbohydrate group, the manufacturer strategically seats the meat product at the top of the ingredient list because each portion weighs less than the total meat meal.

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·         “Meal”- meal is the dried product of an ingredient. Contrary to belief, it’s beneficial because the nutrients are more concentrated since the product has already had water removed.

·         “By-product”- the scary word! By product does not always mean it is the ground up “leftovers” of a carcass. By-product can be organs or a cut of meat not specifically sold for human consumption. The bag may not specify which by-product but if you call the manufacturer they can tell you what by-products are used.

Choosing the right diet for your pet can be difficult because there are so many options and multiple variables that persuade us to choose a diet. Here are a few guidelines to help you decide on the right food for your pet.

1.       Read the AAFCO statement- This statement can be found near the ingredient list. The Association of American Feed Control Officials developed two strategies to qualify a product as balanced and complete. The food must either pass a food trial or meet one of two nutrient profiles. The two food profiles are reproduction & growth, and adult life stage. There are many diets that are formulated for all life stages. All life stages diets must meet the requirement for the highest stage of nutritional need: the reproductive stage. Most adult and senior pets do not require the same nutritional standards as those lactating or growing. Instead, a reputable senior diet will be labeled for adult life stage. We recommend choosing a product that is labeled appropriately for your pet’s life stage and better yet, choose a diet that also has passed a food trial!

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2.       Choose a diet for your pet’s needs- there are many foods that target a specific benefit to your pet: Dental, kidney, allergen, or urinary care lines. Your pet may need to avoid specific diets or ingredients. High protein diets are popular but are not always beneficial, especially to senior pets as the excess protein is not easily digested and can be hard on liver and kidneys. Your veterinarian may recommend a particular diet to benefit your pet. There are multiple veterinary brands so be sure to discuss your options.

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3.       Buy within your price range- unless your pet develops a condition that requires a diet change, your pet will eat the same food until it grows into the next life stage. Changing diets can cause upset stomachs so transitioning should be done over a week period to avoid diarrhea. Make it easy on yourself, choose a product that works within your budget. Also, the saying “you get what you pay for” is no longer necessarily true. Some pet food companies spend more on marketing than they do on research.  

4.        Be sure you choose a food that is manageable for your lifestyle. Raw food diets should be carefully thought out before committing to. We do not recommend a raw food diet for households with children as Salmonella and E-coli can be transmitted from feces. However, there are precautions that can be adapted to your daily lifestyle to safely feed a raw food diet should you choose.

 

With so many pet food products out there, you are sure to find a healthy diet that suits your preference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh “Snap”

Snap is a 5 year old female cat who came to see us for blood in her urine, laying by her litter box and straining to urinate.
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The radiograph on the right shows 2 large bladder stones. We cannot tell what type of bladder stones they are based on a radiograph, but given the high pH of her urine, struvite stones were a possibility. She was put on a prescription diet called Hills C/D, given antibiotics and pain management.
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The radiograph on the left is 2 weeks later and shows the stones to be reduced in size by about 50%.
The final radiograph is 5 weeks later and it shows complete dissolution of the stones.
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We don’t always know why cats develop bladder stones. Some are related to previous infections, some are related to a combination of an individual cat’s own chemistry, metabolism of certain minerals in the diet and urinary pH.
Many factors are involved when a Veterinarian decides if diet dissolution is the right choice for an individual patient. Factors include: gender, size of stones, results of urine testing, exam findings and clinical judgement.
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Snap was very happy she avoided a bladder surgery and will stay on a urinary diet life-long to prevent recurrence of the stones.
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