Puppy Pad Mishaps


Dr. Jennifer Allio


            There is nothing like having that warm, soft little body snuggle up to you at night or during your down time.  There is also nothing that makes you angrier than when that warm soft, little body pees on your brand new carpet.  Next thing you know, you are running around with a rolled up newspaper, chasing that sweet little puppy or dog you fell in love with at the breeder, shelter, or adoption event.  So, put down the newspaper, grab a cup of coffee and read about what we can do to help you and your furry family member.


            Most puppies or dogs have accidents due to a medical condition or the need for some additional house training.  So, many times, you may have to start back at square one with house training.  Yes, even a 10 year old previously housetrained dog can have a mishap or two.  In order to rule out medical causes, you will need to see your veterinarian, but these next few tips may help with the behavioral part of your dog’s problem. 


            First, you must take a deep breath when that fuzzy little creature makes a big mess on your new floor.  Then, if possible, interrupt their little process abruptly by making a loud noise.  As soon as you do this take him or her outside and when the elimination continues outside in a more appropriate place, reward heavily with lots of praise and yummy treats at the spot in the yard he or she finishes on. 


            Next, you will need to clean the mess in the house using a cleaner with an odor neutralizer such as; Urine Away (your veterinarian may carry this product), Nature’s Miracle, or Anti-Icky Poo.  Thoroughly cleaning the area the accident was in is important in the prevention of another accident occurring in that same spot. For our pets, if it smells like a “potty place”, then it must be a “potty place”.  Keeping in mind that their noses are 40 times stronger than ours, we want to make sure our cleaners are truly neutralizing the odor, so using a good product and following the label’s instructions are a great place to start.


            Now, to get that pup outside all the time may be a bit of a challenge, but with a little consistency and determination it can be done.  For younger puppies, you will need to take them outside every 2-3 hours.  When your pup is not under your constant supervision, they should be in a place that is comfortable and easy to clean.  Many people will crate-train their puppies for this reason.  When done right, crate training can be a very helpful tool for the busy family with kids, ball games, ballet, and piano.  Believe it or not, the crate can be a place of comfort for your puppy when you are unable to be around to watch him or her constantly.


            Any time your puppy or adult dog eats or drinks, he or she should be allowed outside for a chance to eliminate.  After play sessions, long stretches in the crate, or a nap on the couch, give your pup a chance to go outside.  As soon as your pup eliminates outside, be sure to reward him or her in the spot he or she eliminates.  This creates a positive association with eliminating outside.  Many times I hear stories of pet owners punishing a dog or puppy for eliminating inside the house only for them to find future accidents in hidden places.  Creating only a negative association with eliminating inside can lead to dogs or puppies finding new places to hide their accidents.  Creating a positive association with eliminating outside helps your pup to better understand where to go and creates a closer bond between you and him or her. 


            Another common method I hear is treating the puppy or dog as he or she comes back into the house.  Doing this creates a positive association with coming back inside instead of with eliminating outside.  Many of these dogs will run out to the backyard only to run right back in for a treat.  They do not think far enough back to know the treat was for eliminating in the yard instead of on the carpet.  Likewise, your puppy or adult dog does not associate a previous accident in the house with your anger upon arriving home to find it.  They do sense your anger by your posture and tone of voice; however, and may give you some appeasement signs in hopes to calm you down.  These might look like cowering (lowering of the head and body while looking up), rolling on their back to expose their bellies, and of course the classic tail tuck running away.


            Do not be discouraged if you have been trying some of these punishment methods with no help. Try switching to a reward system for appropriate elimination and be sure to give your pup plenty of opportunities to relieve him or herself outside.  This sets you both up for success in the long run.  Do not worry if you have an older dog, as they can learn these things, too.


Some other really great resources for housetraining are: Perfect Puppy in 7 days by Dr. Sophia Yin and Way To GO!!  By Karen B. London, PhD and Patricia B. McConnell, PhD.


Why test my dog every year for heartworms? An update from our 2016 numbers.

By:  Dr. Hilary Slaven

We know that heartworm disease is a sneaky one, with one small mosquito bringing the very small heartworm microfilaria from one infected dog to another.  We owners have no idea that our dog has been infected, because it takes over 6 months for the worms to grow and signs to develop.

Inside the dog, the worms eventually look like this:


We know that mosquitoes continue to carry heartworm disease from dog-to-dog in the west central Indiana area. We know this because we see it, typically 1-2 dogs a month here in the Veedersburg clinic.  We also see the distribution numbers throughout the country, shared by the American Heartworm Society.

Check out the distribution of heartworm disease throughout the USA with the link below:


A recent count of the number of heartworm-positive dogs at our Veedersburg clinic alone in 2016 was 17!  This has been a consistent number since we started officially tracking these figures in 2007 (somewhere between 15-20 annually is typical, which translates to 1-2 cases per month).

Looking closely at the specific dogs that were positive, we see that some of the dogs were never on heartworm prevention products (such as monthly Heartgard chews, Interceptor tablets, or Proheart 6 injection), while others were.  Of these dogs that were on protection, often we see a lapse in prevention (i.e., the owner gets busy and forgets to give Bandit his heartworm tablet this month, or maybe the pill is given only seasonally spring-fall).

There is a wide range in the ages of dogs that present with the disease.  In fact, some of the heartworm-positive dogs were young (the youngest that we saw last year being one year of age).

Also, I can tell you that many of the dogs that presented are ‘house-dogs’, meaning that they spend the majority of their time inside the home.  Unfortunately, mosquitoes tend to find us when we go outside, and dogs are no exception to this.  Mosquitoes also tend to follow us inside the home and seek us out inside, too.  All it takes is one bite.

Some dogs that present are sick, and we are testing them because we are suspicious of the disease based on signs and symptoms.  I would say that anecdotally most dogs are not acting sick at all; rather, we find heartworm disease during their regular annual check-up along with vaccines.

When this test comes up positive, we know that the dog already has adult heartworms living in the vessels of the lungs and within the heart itself.  It is already time to act, and there is damage being done internally whether the dog acts like it or not.


This is what our in-clinic heartworm snap test looks like. It tests for tick diseases, too, such as Lyme.

Continue reading

Litterbox Drama

By:  Dr. Jennifer Allio

Many cat owners feel their cat is “getting back at them” for some reason or another when their lovable, furry, happy kitty begins urinating on the carpet instead of the litterbox.  This causes discord in tkitty-litter-panhe home, so what used to be a happy, go-lucky relationship with the kitty becomes a stressful relationship of cleaning up after kitty all….the….time.  What could be causing this type of behavior?  The list of potential causes include; medical (urinary tract infection, bladder stones, kidney disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, etc) or behavioral.  To rule out medical causes, you should first make an appointment with your veterinarian.  For behavioral causes, you may still need to call your veterinarian if some of the following methods do not work.

First, when an accident occurs, use a cleaner with an odor neutralizer such as; Urine Away (your veterinarian may carry this product), Nature’s Miracle, or Anti-Icky Poo.  Thoroughly cleaning the area the accident was in is important in the prevention of another accident occurring in that same spot. For our pets, if it smells like a “potty place”, then it must be a “potty place”.  Keeping in mind that their noses are 40 times stronger than ours, we want to make sure our cleaners are truly neutralizing the odor, so using a good product and following the label’s instructions are a great place to start.

Second, it is time to figure out why your kitty no longer desires to use the litterbox.  It may be that he or she had a urinary tract infection, so every time he or she used the litterbox it hurt.  This can lead to litterbox aversion.  Your kitty now has a negative association with the litterbox.  This is the most common cause we see for continued urination outside the litterbox.  Other causes include; surface preference, inconsistent cleaning of the litterbox, being startled while in the litterbox or being punished after urinating outside the litterbox and then placed in the litterbox.

Some cats will stop using the litterbox for simple reasons, such as, not being cleaned frequently, not enough litterboxes, switching the type of litter, another cat in the home causing conflict, or the litterbox is too public.  This all sounds insane to us; because we provide a space in our home for them to eliminate so it should be that easy, right?  If you think about it, though, we usually have similar preferences, so it makes some sense that they want a clean, dry, quiet place to eliminate, too.

Here are some general guidelines for litterboxes:

  • Have the same number of litterboxes as you do cats +1. So, if you have 2 cats, then you have 3 litterboxes.
  • Clean the litterbox at least twice daily
  • Completely change the litter out every week, sometimes twice weekly
  • Multiple levels in a home mean a litterbox on every level with easy access for kitty.
  • Optimize the litter by trying several types in different boxes in the same location to see what your cat prefers.
  • Optimize the location by having boxes set up in several locations to see which one is used most.
  • Try to place litterboxes in quiet locations with little traffic. For example, the laundry room is not a great location, but an open closet is.
  • Try different types of litterboxes: covered, uncovered, deep, shallow, and wide or long. Some cats avoid covered litterboxes, because they don’t like to eliminate in a cave-like setting.  The covering also traps odors.
  • Some cats like liners, while others don’t.
  • Some cats may avoid automatic litterboxes for fear of the cleaning mechanism that might turn on while they are eliminating.

With all these suggestions, hopefully you and your kitty can squash the litterbox drama and regain your happy relationship together.


Update: West Central Indiana -Lyme and Heartworm in 2016

By:  Dr. Hilary Slaven

Annual testing of pets for heartworm disease has been recommended in our area for 30+ years because we know that the disease is here and that it does affect dogs and their owners.  (What is heartworm disease?)

Every year we keep track of the numbers of dogs that we test for heartworms.  This gives us an idea of how prevalent the disease continues to be, as well as how well we are doing at educating owners about the disease and prevention options.

Thankfully, we have a test that is easily run in the clinic, while the patient is still in the building!  A small sample of blood can give us a lot of information.

Last year, at our Veedersburg location we tested over 1300 dogs for heartworms, and 17 of those dogs came back positive for the disease.  This means that those dogs were actively carrying the worm inside their body.

Most of those were incidental findings, meaning that we found the disease during a routine exam and blood screen.  These dogs were not acting sick at home.  Often this is the best time to treat (before a dog is more advanced with the illness).  Most treatments, when done properly and disease is caught early, take three-six months to treat with a 90%+ rate of success.  More advanced disease is much more difficult to treat, with a more guarded rate of success.

Lyme disease is also highly prevalent in our area.  We have been testing and tracking the disease since 2007 at our clinic, and have seen many dogs that were feeling sick with the disease.  (What is Lyme disease?)

Some dogs carry the disease without showing signs of illness.  In 2016, we saw 7% of those dogs tested for Lyme show positive exposure.  This means that they have been bitten by a deer tick, who transmitted the Lyme disease to the dog.  Most dogs that are symptomatic for the disease respond to antibiotic therapy.

It is so handy to have a test that we can run immediately in the clinic to get a diagnosis before a patient goes home!snaptestkit


Hairballs. A comical look at how they affect us humans. And how they can actually be a sign of something more serious.

By:  Dr. Hilary Slaven

Good morning, furry friend owners!  Monday after the holidays can be a rough one.  Back to the races and routines.

I have a morning routine, like everyone.  It actually starts the night before, when I set my coffee pot up for the next morning.  (Someday I will buy one with a timer, but for now I’m too sentimentally attached to this one to replace it.  I credit it almost singularly for getting me through veterinary school).  Every morning, my alarm goes off and my kitty cat jumps onto the bed for his morning pets.  Then I peel myself out of bed and plod to the kitchen where I push the magic button that starts the coffee drip.  The sound of the machine firing up is what starts up my wake up process.  And a new day has begun.

Sometimes, the morning routine can get more complicated than this.

  • Scenario 1:  At times, my coffee pot fails to fire up right away. (Aside:  I’m waiting for the morning that I turn it on and nothing happens, and I realize that my dear daily companion has quietly gone to sleep during the night.)
  • Scenario 2:  I fail to hear the alarm and I rush through the dark house to the kitchen.  And then I step on my son’s Match box car in my bare feet or stub my toe on the coffee table.
  • Scenario 3:  I hop out of bed in bare feet and step onto a cold, wet pile of hair and food.

Hairballs.  The less-than-fun side of cat ownership.

All of us kitty lovers know the feeling of stepping on one or the feeling of finding a dried-up nasty one in your closet.  We can hear our cats hacking one up from three rooms over.  We know how much our dogs love to find and eat a hairball ‘treat’.  We find them on our new couch or bedspread or carpet and spend good money on stain remover to clean them up.  It seems to be a necessary evil of having these furry friends in our homes.



Meet Miko.  His hobbies include eating, sleeping, climbing up my shoulder, growing sharp razor-like claws, playing with rolled up balls of paper, attacking toes, and hacking up hairballs.


The biology behind a simple hairball:  When you have a long haired kitty that loves to give himself baths (i.e. grooming), the hair catches on a cat’s rough tongue and kitty ends up swallowing the ball of fur.  It ends up in the stomach, where it can sit and roll around until the cat regurgitates it back up, usually along with a ball of undigested food.  This is especially common with long-haired cats due to the large amount of hair that they carry.

As a veterinarian, we have to think about other causes for hairballs, such as medical issues.  For example, is the cat stressed for some reason?  Stress can cause a cat to groom themselves more than normal.  Stress can involve change of routine, adding new pets or people to the household, or medical issues.  Bladder infections, masses, and skin issues (among other things) can act as a stressor or cause pain that can trigger this grooming behavior that leads to hairballs.  Sometimes it’s not pain or stress, but an intestinal issue that causes the gut to slow down and not allow hairballs to move through the digestive tract.

Often, a simple change of diet to a ‘hairball control’ diet and starting a daily habit of brushing your cat can cure the problem.  However, if you are dealing with hairballs more than once every couple of weeks, consider bringing your pet to the veterinarian for a check-up, especially if:

  1. It has been more than one year since your pet’s last exam
  2. Your pet is showing other signs of illness or is ‘off’
  3. You have tried simple treatments, such as brushing your cat’s hair daily and hairball control diets with no success.

We can help make your daily morning routine hair-ball free, just give us a call!

(Coffee Cheers)




Cold Laser Therapy and Pets

By Dr. Hilary Slaven

Cold Laser Therapy:  What is it?

A laser is a machine that produces energy in the form of light.  This light can be emitted in specific wavelengths and moved through an instrument.  This instrument is applied to the furry friend (horse, dog, cat) and the light affects the tissue underneath.



Dr. Laura Couch, certified canine rehabilitator, WCVS Rockville


How does it work?

Low level lasers increase the blood supply and increases cell growth.  This allows for faster, less painful recoveries from injury and after surgery.  This also means that tissue heals with less scar tissue and fewer post-operative complications such as pain and swelling and prolonged discomfort.  Successful treatments can involve anywhere from one post-operative treatment to several treatments over several days or weeks, often in addition to physical therapy.

Which health problems could benefit from cold laser therapy?

  • Wounds (including surgical incisions)
  • Tendonitis
  • Edema
  • Osteoarthritis

Who do we talk to for a consultation on this therapy?

Within the WCVS system, Drs. Laura Couch and Julie Anderson of our Rockville clinic use the cold laser.  Dr. Julie most often uses it along with acupuncture and chiropractic methods, and Dr. Laura most often uses it post-operatively and for orthopedic rehabilitation.

Don’t let your dog gain those extra holiday pounds

By Dr. Hilary Slaven

Did you know that the average person gains 10 pounds over the holiday season?

It’s a time for celebration and often that means yummy, yummy, yummy food.  And often we are too busy getting ready for the holidays that we don’t make time for exercise.  Add to that the fact that the days are short and getting colder, and we just don’t want to be as active as we were a couple of months ago.  The simple equation is:

More calorie intake (yummy holiday food) + Less calorie burning (less exercise) = Weight gain

Our furry friends tend to follow our trends, too.  Our indoor dogs that spend lots of time with us tend to sit on the couch when we sit on the couch, and play outside when we play outside.  If we take a walk, they want to come too.  If we make yummy food, we share yummy food.  If we diet, we measure out our dog’s food, too.  So it’s natural for our furry buddies to gain weight when we gain weight, and lose weight when we lose weight.

Another thing to remember is that the more active we are, the more energy we have and the more we crave activity.  The converse is also true.  The more couch time that we have, the more unlikely we will feel like going for a walk.  The same is true for our furry Little Fat Pugfriends. They say that it takes 3 weeks to form good habits, which means that those of us that have already gotten under the spell of cold weather inactivity will need to work hard for a few weeks to get back into good exercise habits.

The good news is that we do not have to wait for the weight gain to happen and the New Year to come along for change.  We can avoid the weight gain from the start!  And you and your furry friend will look awesome in your Christmas sweaters!  This is a win/win!

So let’s sum up our strategies for keeping our pooches trim (I’m talking about pets 🙂

  1. Get outside and take a walk!  Or walk inside your home for a certain number of steps or a certain amount of time every day.  (Get this approved by your doctor if you need to!)  Five minutes of activity beats zero any day.  If you run, try running with your puppy.  If you can’t walk, sit on your favorite recliner and play fetch with your pooch inside the home.  Make it work for you.
  2. Set manageable goals.  If you don’t currently exercise, start with five or ten minutes a day and work up to thirty minutes a day.  Keep goals that you can see yourself doing practically every day, as a habit.
  3. Measure your pet’s food.  Keep track of what your pet eats.  Like us, pets tend to eat more than they should if it tastes good.  They look to us, their human caretakers, to notice when they are eating too much and to cut back when necessary.  Some pets need not only limitations on how much they eat, but also a low-calorie diet to maintain weight.  If you need help, talk to your veterinarian for guidelines specific to your furry loved one.
  4. Indoor cats need exercise and food limitations too.  Most indoor cats do not need more than 1/2 cup per day of a regular dry diet.  They also need time to run around and play.  This can happen with a laser pointer, playing fetch with small pieces of paper, cat toys like plastic balls and bells, and other ways to keep them active.
  5. Spend time with your friend every day.  Make the effort to spend 20-30 minutes a day playing with and exercising your pet.  This will enrich their life and yours, too.  🙂