When Fluffy urinates in the house…and she normally doesn’t.

dog peeing in house

Dr. Hilary Slaven

We frequently see dogs that have been potty-trained for years and suddenly have a lapse – and now they are urinating inside the house.  This is never a good thing and we can help!

The first thing we do in these situations is get a good history from you, the loving and observant owner.  We will ask questions like: how long has this been a problem?  Does it happen overnight as well as during the day?  Is the dog straining to urinate?  Does your dog act like he is very thirsty?  Does your dog leave puddles when he sleeps?  Are you finding big puddles or small puddles?  Does your dog have a good appetite?  Any vomiting or diarrhea?

The next thing to do is to get a good physical examination of the dog.  We look in the eyes, listen to the heart and lungs, feel the belly, and take a body temperature.  This will give us clues as to what the problem is, and help us to determine what tests we need to run.

If you can, try to keep your dog from urinating before coming in to see the veterinarian.  We like to get samples of urine and test it for infection.  Sometimes that urine sample can be caught as the dog is urinating, and sometimes it’s best to get a “clean” sample by inserting a needle directly into the bladder.  If you are able to get a sample of your own, put it in a clean disposable container, seal it, and refrigerate until you can bring it in.  Samples should be run within 24 hours for best results.

After we run tests for infection, sometimes it is necessary to get an x-ray of the belly, to check for kidney and bladder stones.  Many stones show up in this way and tell us whether or not we need to address this problem.  Some stones can be dissolved with a special diet, while others need surgery to remove them.

Bloodwork is sometimes necessary to rule in/out other diseases that can cause frequent urination, like diabetes and kidney disease.  Sometimes dogs become incontinent or have cognitive problems as they age, which can result in inappropriate urination.

We can help with urinating problems, give us a call!

 

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Backyard chickens – The new trend

 

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Dr. Hilary Slaven

There is nothing better than waking up, walking outdoors, and collecting fresh eggs for breakfast.  The contented clucking of the hens and the freshness of the food–wonderful.  In recent years, we have seen a lot of clients moving toward having a chicken coop in their backyard, even in town!  This is egg-citing, to say the least, and merits some discussion of how this can be a successful venture for our town clients.

Here are a few basic tips for backyard hens:

  1. Be sure that your town law allows for chickens inside the city limits. 
  2. Do your research.  Know the investment of cash and time involved to build and sustain your flock.  Great books out there:  our recommendation is Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow.
  3. Consider purchasing a pre-made coop, or study one and build your own.   Moveable housing is a good option, because it allows for chickens to be contained but also allows them to forage for food.  Chickens that cannot forage can act pretty nutty!  Foraging also allows for chickens to get extra nutrients from the ground.
  4. Chicks need warmth and a growing feed for the first few weeks of life.  Many owners will keep chicks inside their home or garage until they are old enough to move to the chicken coop, usually around 6-9 weeks of age.  Baby chicks need access to a heat lamp and grower feed.  Look for chicks to be evenly distributed around the box — this is a sign that their body temperature is just right.  If they are huddled under the heat lamp, it is too cold.  If they are gathered away from the lamp, it is too warm.
  5. Chickens start laying eggs around 6 months of age and need to be on an egg-laying diet with supplements of calcium, such as crushed oyster shells.  They also need plenty of fresh water, as each hen can drink up to 4 cups of water a day.  As the hen gets older, it is normal for egg production to start to drop eventually.
  6. Keep your enclosure clean and dry.  Changing bedding regularly keeps ammonia levels low and helps prevent respiratory troubles.  It also keeps hens clean and helps prevent mites and other skin issues.
  7. What you feed can affect how stinky your coop becomes.  When you have neighbors, this can be a significant issue.  Feeding a ‘vegetarian-based’ feed can help reduce the aroma and maintain good relationships with your friends over the fence.
  8. Don’t crowd your coop.  Too many hens in a small space can cause chickens to be unhappy.  They may start picking on each other (literally), lay fewer eggs, and can be more unhealthy.
  9. Eggs carry Salmonella bacteria.  Be cautious about allowing children to pick up eggs and play around the coop — be sure to have normal hand washing, etc.

Chickens are a lot of fun to watch and are easy to handle.  This can be a very rewarding hobby for you!

Orthopedic Rehabilitation for Dogs

There has been evidence that dogs, like people, benefit greatly from rehabilitation after orthopedic injuries and surgeries.  In the past, surgeries to repair bone fractures, spinal injuries and torn ligaments have been followed up with pain relievers and orders for strict rest (“cage rest”).  What we can see with this approach is loss of muscle tone and weakness over time.  This can lead to a longer road to recovery, with potentially fewer success stories.

The newer approach with canine medicine is to look at surgical recovery more like our human counterparts…with prescriptions for structured physical therapy in the veterinary hospital post-operatively.  This often means follow-up physical therapy appointments for several weeks after the surgery, as well as at-home instructions for exercises.

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Like much of small animal veterinary medicine, orthopedic rehabilitation is becoming a specialized aspect to our work beyond general medicine.  Small animal veterinarians can have special training and become certified in rehabilitation.  Our own Dr. Laura Couch, of WCVS Rockville, has recently been certified in this area and is now seeing patients that could benefit from physical therapy.

Horses and Intestinal Worms: What you need to know!

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.

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Large Strongyle larvae in the horse gut tissue.  http://www.eggzamin.com

 

 

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Bots in the stomach of a horse.  http://www.bimectin.com

 

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 then shed into the environment through feces.  Once eggs are shed they form into larvae where the life cycle then starts again.

There are other parasites such as round worms, tapeworms, lungworms, hairworms, stomach worms, and threadworms but these are not as common and therefore not as much a concern at this time.

Determining if you have a parasite problem is the first step, which you can do by bringing a fresh fecal sample to your veterinarian.  We will then perform a test called a fecal flotation to look for parasite eggs.

If it is found that you in fact have a parasite problem, we will recommend a de-wormer based on the number of eggs and type of worms seen.  We may also make recommendations about pasture decontamination ad deworming of other pasture mates or barn mates.  In this way, we are able to treat the specific problem in a direct way, without guessing as to whether there is a problem or not.

 

 

If it is found that horses do not have a large parasite problem and you deworm anyway, then you may be aiding in parasite drug resistance.  Resistant worm populations are not affected by the deworming drugs that are commonly used.  This happens when we deworm when the problem is not severe or use the same medication over and over again year after year.  If resistance continues to rise, one day our medications may no longer be useful with no new deworming medications on the horizon.  This would then leave us with a large number of ill horses without much to do to help.  This is why it is important to contact your veterinarian and bring in a fecal sample before you decide to deworm your adult horses this year.  Help us to fight drug resistance by turning to us before you head to the store to buy that de-wormer.

Puppy Pad Mishaps

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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:

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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:

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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.

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

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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.