Cold Laser Therapy and Pets

West Central Veterinary Services

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-and-cold-laser-therapy-small 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…

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Horses and Intestinal Worms: What you need to know!

West Central Veterinary Services

By Dr. Danielle Willenborg

“It’s spring, that means I deworm my horse, right?  Maybe not!”

Intestinal parasites are something that horse owners have been concerned about for years.  Many believe that they should deworm adult horses at least twice a year, once being in the spring of the year.  That may not be the case anymore, and if you are deworming when it is not needed then you may be causing more harm than good.

Strongyles.in_.mucosa-1 Large Strongyle larvae in the horse gut tissue.

bots-gasterophilus.jpg Bots in the stomach of a horse.

The most common intestinal parasites we worry about as veterinarians are:  large strongyles, small strongyles, and bots.  The two most concerning in the springtime are the strongyles.  Large and small strongyle larvae are picked up off the grass when horses are grazing, they are ingested and travel through the gut where they then reproduce and eggs are…

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Chronic diarrhea? We can help.

It happens a lot — we are looking at canine patients that need their yearly exam and it comes up in discussion.  Fluffy is doing well except that every once in a while she will have runny stool that lasts for a few days.  Then it might go away on its own and come back later on.

Sometimes its dogs that we see over and over again for the same problem; diarrhea that doesn’t go away on its own and after 3 or 4 days they come in to see us.  The dog may or may not feel crummy or stop eating or vomits too.

We often ask a lot of questions about these dogs because history is often half of the diagnosis.  We want to know the types of foods the dog is eating, how often, is it a new bag of food? does he get into the cat food?  does he find table scraps during the day?  does he run outside and find dead animals to chew on?  We also want to know if it is a dog that likes to eat non-food items, such as grandma’s socks or the kids’ Little People toys.  We will ask questions about temperament: is Buddy a nervous dog?  does he get worked up about changes in routine?  has something about the daily routine changed to cause Buddy to be uncomfortable?  We ask questions about Buddy’s history before the client owned him.  Was he a stray?  Did he come from a breeder?  was he dewormed, and how recently?  has he been treated for intestinal worms in the past?  Has he been around other dogs with diarrhea or worms?  How has Rover been feeling lately?  Does he have an appetite?  Has he lost weight?

And last but not least, we want to know what the diarrhea looks like, how often it is happening, how much diarrhea you see, and please please please if you can bring a fresh sample that would be wonderful.

The bottom line is, there’s a long list of potential problems that can cause diarrhea.  We are trying to whittle those down to the root cause.

Here’s a few things that we think about as vets when these patients come in to see us:

  1. Intestinal Parasites
  2. Stress/situational diarrhea
  3. Food sensitivities/allergies
  4. Infection/inflammatory bowel
  5. Toxins/drug reactions
  6. Foreign body
  7. Neoplasia
  8. Secondary diarrhea to other medical problems

Typically we need:

  1. A good history of the problem
  2. Fecal sample
  3. Physical exam
  4. +/- Baseline bloodwork
  5. +/- Radiographs

Sometimes we need more specialized tests beyond this, such as specific fecal tests or abdominal ultrasound.

Does your dog have loose stool?  We can help!  Give us a call.Golden Puppy.png


Deworming and your sheep/goat herd

In this article, we will do some basic talk about general deworming strategies for small ruminant herds (goats and sheep).  We are seeing a lot of babies on the ground already this spring and strategic deworming can help get these kids to thrive and survive.  Not all farms require all strategies.  We can help you to find the right method for your flock and your situation with a visit to the farm and conversation.

Remember:  The number one cause of diarrhea in adult goats is parasites!

We see a lot of Haemonchus worm diarrhea, especially in recently weaned kids.  This worm lives in the gut and sheds eggs in the stool that are picked up again by mouth strongyle-40xduring grazing.  When sick, kids will not grow well and may become anemic or develop bottle jaw and will eventually die if uncontrolled.

Kids and lambs that are confined to a small pen are more likely to pick up the worm eggs, vs. large pen or pasture where they are less crowded.  Dry lots make a difference, too.  When conditions are dry, the eggs tend to stay trapped in the fecal pellets and are less likely to be eaten by the goat kids. However, when the environment is wet (on rainy days or in flooded areas), the eggs are released and goats pick them up easily as they eat.

Strategies for preventing Haemonchus worms:

  1.  Feed lambs or kids indoors or in dry pens.
  2.  Deworm dams before kidding and repeat monthly through kidding season.
  3.  Do not overcrowd lambs in pasture (dilution effect).
  4.  Check normal appearing stool for worms regularly (at least twice a year) at your veterinarian’s office and deworm as necessary.  Your veterinarian can quantify the number of eggs and advise you on strategic deworming.
  5. Check all diarrhea for parasites at your veterinarian’s office as soon as possible.
  6. Deworm before sending out into pasture in the spring.
  7. Deworm before moving to dry lot in the winter.
  8. Rotate pastures, ideally leaving a pasture vacant for 3-6 months before moving goats onto it.
  9. Use one product for a year, and then switch products the next year to help prevent resistance to dewormer.
  10. New flock additions should be kept in a dry lot for 3 weeks and dewormed at least twice with two different dewormers during this period before allowing contact with the rest of the flock.

Coccidia is another parasite that we see cause diarrhea and death in young kids or sheep.  Older animals will shed these but do not act or look sick, but babies will pick up the parasite and get diarrhea, get weak and stop eating, typically at 1-4 months of age.  This parasite is another one that can be picked up easily on a fresh stool sample under the microscope and can be treated if caught early enough.

Please give us a call, we can help you strategize a system for parasite control on your farm!

Heartworms: What’s the Deal?

West Central Veterinary Services

By:  Dr. Hilary Slaven

I saw two mosquitoes in my house last night as I was vegging out in front of the TV.

For the record, it is the middle of March in central Indiana.  What the heck.

“Yikes!”, I said.  And (naturally) I thought, “It’s heartworm transmission time.”mosquito03

(Yes, I am a veterinarian.)

All of us vets have seen and treated dogs that have had heartworm disease, watched animals suffer and folks have to spend a lot of money to treat it and I think that I can speak for all of us when we say:

We hate it.

Here’s how it works.

As soon as the days start to warm, the mosquitoes start feeding and laying eggs.  We know that female mosquitoes can over winter in homes, sheds, holes in trees, etc.  (See Purdue University’s Mosquito Information Page).

These mosquitoes take blood meals from mammals, including coyotes…

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What are ear mites and how do I fix it?

Most folks have heard of ear mites and many have treated pets with itchy, red ears for this common parasite.  In our critters, they can be like fleas — easy to pass around and difficult to get rid of.  Here’s the skinny on what an ear mite is and what the heck we have to do to get rid of them.

Ear mites are tiny parasites that up close (under the microscope) resembles a tick:


Ear mite under the microscope.

These guys live inside the pet’s ear canal and eat ear wax for nutrition.  There are males and females, who mate and lay eggs.  Eggs hatch into larvae that grow up inside the ear canal and change into adults over three weeks’ time.  The adults mate and the cycle continues.  Adults live up to 2 months inside the ear.

Ear mites can be extremely irritating to the pet; they can fill the ear canal with debris and cause ear infections.  Some cats will claw the outside of their ear with their back legs and give themselves wounds because the ears are so annoyed.

Meanwhile, the cat or dog is socializing with other pets inside the house or other critters outside and the mites pass easily between them.  This means that all of the critters need to be treated to get rid of the problem.

Ear mites with otoscopy

This is what we see with our otoscope. Little white dots that are crawling around the ear canal, wreaking havoc and just generally annoying everybody.

There are a few different treatments available.  There are medications that are applied to the back of the cat and are absorbed by the skin that kill mites for 30 days.  These work well if the ear is properly cleaned out prior to application (Revolution, Advantage Multi).  Other treatments are applied directly to the inside of the ear; a couple of products require an ear cleaning and one application (Milbemite, Acarexx).  Others require an ear cleaning and application of the product every day for a few weeks (Tresaderm).

For critters that go outdoors, a topical Revolution or Advantage Multi can be the preferred method for treatment because if applied every 30 days it will both treat and prevent ear mite issues.dscn0056


That Wound Will Never Heal…Think Again! A Story In Pictures of Wound Healing.

Dr. Jennifer Hochstedler

That wound will never heal…. Think again!

A few months ago a young dog was brought to our clinic in Greencastle.  She had been found with a severe wound to her left rear leg.  The trauma that caused the wound remains unknown.  Luckily, a foster home was quickly attained for her and dedicated wound therapy prevailed.  The pictures you are about to see may be graphic for some viewers.

There are many factors that influence how well a wound can heal.  Some of these include:

  • Age of the animal
  • Preexisting disease, such as liver disease or diabetes
  • Debris that gets imbedded in the wound, such as plant material, teeth, gravel, etc.
  • How quickly wound therapy is initiated after the trauma initially occurred
  • Ability to keep wound clean and cared for


Day 1- Initial day of hospital admission

This is our little dog’s wound after we started to clip the hair and clean it with a chlorhexidine scrub.


The yellowish film is exudate or fluid that is seeping from the wound.  It contains white blood cells that have tried to come in a “clean up” the wound.

Tulip2The pink tissue is called granulation tissue.  We suspect that the wound had been there approximately 7-10 days.  The skin edges had already curled inward trying to reattach to the new underlying tissue.  The wound was bandaged with chlorhexidine scrub.  We then used a cream called Derma-clens (Zoetis) and bandaged the leg.  Derma-Clens is wonderful for wounds that need necrotic (or non-living) tissue removed so that more appropriate healing can occur.  It is used frequently for cat bite abscesses.


Day 4

Huge progress!


The derma-clens did a great job of cleaning up the non-living tissue and debris.  At this point, it was important to keep the wound clean, dry and covered.  We used sugar on the wound moving forward as it encourages continual granulation tissue production to fill in the wound.

Day 9

Look at how much it is closing in!  We continued to clean off any exudate and/or debris with chlorhexidine (antimicrobial) scrub and then kept bandaged with a sugar wrap.  Tulip had to wear an e-collar when she was not under direct supervision, as she liked to remove the bandage on her own!


Day 16

Tulip 7Tulip8

The skin eventually healed over completely and her owner continues to see the scar contract and shrink down.


Tulip has fully recovered and has no trouble playing like any other pup!