Labor day has come and gone, the Patriots play their season opener tonight, there are (slightly) fewer out of state cars on the road....summer must be over. This summer brought the usual assortment of cuts, quills, compost eating, hot spots and muscle injuries. Along with the usual, we saw some new developments in the world of pet illness. Lyme disease is an ever present danger, becoming even more prevalent each year. Anaplasmosis is showing up more often, although usually it is not symptomatic. There is a new canine influenza strain south of us that has been causing sporadic outbreaks in the mid-Atlantic and south. The past few weeks have seen at least one outbreak of kennel cough, likely due to a carrier dog who was showing no signs of illness when he came into the boarding facility.
Unlike most diseases, "kennel cough" is not really a single disease at all, but a complex of numerous viruses and bacteria that can occur in any combination and cause a deep, honking cough. Then name came about due to the fact that dogs who are housed in close quarters under stressful conditions tend to spread respiratory disease. Despite this, any dog can become infected with any one of these upper respiratory organisms. Some dogs will show signs of illness when infected, some will not. Many will cough but otherwise seem to feel and act fine. While there is a vaccine that is associated with "kennel cough", it is not designed to prevent the complex. Unlike most vaccines, the goal is to decrease the amount of spread from dog and dog and limit the severity and duration of the cough. The vaccine protects against Bordatella, the bacteria most commonly found in dogs with kennel cough. By eliminating this bacteria from the mix, the disease tends to be less severe.
While we do recommend vaccinating dogs who are going to travel, stay in a kennel, go to day care or dog classes, or spend time at a dog park, this is more to prevent the spread of the disease than to guarantee that your pet won't come down with a cough. If your dog does start to cough after being in contact with other dogs, it is most likely an infection of some sort. Much like us, it is often viral and we just need to let it run it's course. If your dog seems to feel ill, we might prescribe antibiotics for the bacterial part of the complex. If you are traveling south for the winter (lucky you), we might also recommend vaccinating against the two strains of influenza that are currently being diagnosed. Even if your dog isn't going any further than the back yard, make sure they are up to date on Rabies, DHPPV and Lyme vaccines to protect them from the always present diseases that we deal with here in the mid coast. Enjoy the fall, it will pass as quickly as the summer did!
Since Boothbay Animal Hospital first opened in 1975, we have operated on a "walk-in" basis. For many years, we have been the only veterinary facility in Maine that continues to do this. For many reasons, appointments allow for more efficient use of time, better service to our clients and better care for our patients. Over the past few months, we have been continuing our walk in service with only four veterinarians and we realized that this couldn't continue if we wanted to offer top notch service and still have time to eat, sleep and have lives outside the hospital. After much discussion and soul searching, Drs. Domeyer and Mugnai have decided that starting November 14th, we will become an appointment only clinic. We honestly think this will let us serve our clients better, give all our patients the time they deserve, and allow our veterinarians to schedule things outside of work. You can now call the clinic and schedule an appointment during our regular hours. We will do our best to give you a time that works for you, and if necessary an appointment with a specific doctor. Each doctor will see appointments three days each week, have one day to schedule surgeries and have a day off. We will also block off an hour each day for lunch for each doctor, something that often doesn't happen under our current system. By knowing in advance who is coming in and what they need, we can be better prepared and allow plenty of time with (hopefully) minimal wait times. We realize this is a HUGE change for all of our clients as well as our staff but we think in the long run it will be a great change. Thank you all again for being the best clients anywhere and bearing with us through a year of great changes.
Ticks are everywhere in great abundance this summer, and with ticks comes disease. Most of us are familiar with Lyme disease, which is carried by deer ticks. Did you know that up to 80% of the deer ticks in our area also carry an organism called Anaplasma phagocytophilum? This organism infects dogs through tick bites and can cause a disease that can look very similar to Lyme disease. Anaplasmosis can cause fever, lethargy, lameness and in some cases blood disorders which lead to bleeding. To make things even worse, we are now seeing Ehrlichia canis, an organism very closely related to Anaplasma, that used to be found only in the mid-Atlantic and southern states. When your dog comes in for its annual Heartworm/Tick disease blood test, we screen for Heartworm disease and these 3 tick-borne diseases. Just 15 years ago, we didn't have any of these infections, 10 years ago, we only had Lyme to worry about, and just a few years ago, Anaplasmosis was the "new thing." Now, not only do we have the 3 deer tick borne diseases I mentioned earlier, we have started seeing Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Maine and the black legged ticks that carry it.
Many people react to a positive test for infection with a tick borne disease by saying "but my dog hasn't had any ticks", and this is because they haven't SEEN any. Unfortunately, if you have a dog like these two sleepy guys, you are not going to find ticks, even when they are there. Even if you have a dog with short, light colored hair, ticks feed most when they are nymphs and are only the size of the head of a pin. In short, the best way to avoid having your pet get infected by one of these nasty bugs is to keep ticks off. There are lots of products that claim to kill or repel ticks but we highly recommend you stop by and pick up a prescription product like Nexgard, Frontline Gold or Vectra if you really want to kill ticks before they can transmit disease, and do it safely. If you are using these products, you will still find ticks climbing on your pets (I picked 11 off my dog last Sunday), but they will not survive long enough to attach, feed and transmit disease. If your dog is acting lethargic, lame or just suddenly very ill and they spend time outdoors, you might want to have them tested. Try to avoid areas of long grass and brush since this is prime tick territory, and by all means, look for ticks when your pet comes in, you may not find them all but you can certainly cut down on the risk of infection. Have a great rest of the summer and remember, we are here to answer any questions you may have.
As I write this, it appears that summer may have actually arrived. Apparently it was one of those Maine years that skipped right over spring, we went from low 40's two nights ago to near 85 today. With the arrival of
Now that Memorial Day has past, our all too brief summer season is in full swing. For the next few months, we will see our many seasonal patients and more and more of you who are just "passing through." Since more pets are traveling, I thought I would share a few thoughts on how to keep it safe and fun for everyone. If you travel with your cat (you'd be surprised how many cats love the RV life!), you should always be sure to keep him safely locked up when you are loading, unloading or even just stopping in a busy rest area. It is amazing how fast a cat can appear and bolt out a door when you think they are asleep in the next room. If only takes seconds for them to run into traffic, get lost or injure themselves. For the same reasons, those of you who bring your dog(s) along, make sure they are leashed BEFORE you open the door. If you are not bringing them with you, be sure they are in a cool spot with plenty of water. We have all heard horror stories of dogs being left in hot cars and how fast this becomes deadly. Each summer we see a few cases of heat stroke that could have been avoided and it is heartbreaking. Luckily, more and more places are becoming "pet friendly", allowing you to bring your dog with you on your adventures. Again, be sure to keep your dog on a leash (unless you are in a place that is specifically designated for dogs to run loose) and be aware of other dogs who might not be leashed. Each summer we see several cases of dogs being bitten by other dogs despite everyone's best intentions. If you can bring your fur friend along, make sure it is an activity they can handle. A pug who is used to sleeping in an air conditioned house probably isn't suited for a hike on a summer day and remember that asphalt, concrete and even sand and rocks get VERY hot in the summer sun and most dogs don't wear shoes!
Our dogs love to play outside when the weather gets nice. They are curious about everything they find, especially if it moves, makes noise or smells interesting. Unfortunately, this includes some unwelcome visitors like porcupines and skunks. Both of these trouble makes like to come out to feed at dawn and dusk and are more active at night. Because of this, the best way to avoid having your dog try to make friends with one is to keep them on a leash or in a fenced yard after dark and early in the AM. If they do decide to visit with one of these critters, there are some things you should know.
If your pet meets up with a skunk and gets sprayed with that lovely odor, it is NOT a medical emergency. Fortunately for us, it is best treated at home. After years of experimentation, we have found the best remedy is: Mix 1 quart hydrogen peroxide, 1 Tablespoon Dawn dish soap and 1/4 cup Baking Soda. Bathe thoroughly, really working the solution through the hair, and let soak for at least 10 minutes. Rinse and let air dry. You can repeat this if needed and it will really cut down on the smell. Most dogs will retain some residual odor, especially when they get wet, for weeks. Be aware, if you have a black dog the peroxide may cause some bleaching of the hair but it will grow back in black again.
If your pet is unfortunate enough to tackle a porcupine, the key things to know are: DO NOT cut the quills short, this just makes them harder to pull out. DO NOT try to pull them out yourself. Quills are barbed and the barb is buried under the skin so when you pull, you are not pulling a straight needle, you are pulling the tail of the barb, tearing the skin and causing more pain than when the quill went in. Unless your dog only has a few quills, you will end up with a painful, upset pet that still has quills to remove and needs to go to a veterinarian for sedation to get them out. For everyone's benefit, just come straight to us, let us give your friend some sedation and get all (or most) of the quills out painlessly. If quills are left in, they can become buried and migrate through the body, potentially causing long term issues and requiring multiple surgeries to get them out.
Did you know: that fleas are present year round, even in Maine? That indoor only cats can have fleas? That there are four species of tick in our area that can bite your pet and transmit disease? That there are 2 types of roundworm and 3 types of hookworm found in Maine? That YOU can get these parasites too, just by walking barefoot or kneeling or sitting on the ground? That over 200 Maine dogs were diagnosed with Heartworm disease last year?
While we can't completely avoid fleas and ticks, we can do a lot to make it harder for them to attack our pets and therefor ourselves. The most common hookworm in Maine for instance, is killed by Heartgard Plus (but not Sentinel or Interceptor), which is one of the reasons we recommend giving your dog Heartgard Plus year round. Heartgard Plus also kills both types of roundworm as well as preventing Heartworm disease by killing immature heartworms. While there are many tick products on the market that kill one or two types of ticks, Nexgard is the only prescription oral medication that kills all 4 types of tick and starts killing them within 2 hours of being given.
We know you have lots of options for flea, tick, heartworm and parasite prevention and we also understand that everyone would like to save money when they can. We also strongly believe that prevention is both better for your pet and cheaper for you than treatment. Because of this, we recommend both Heartgard Plus and Nexgard year round for your dog. By buying these products from us instead of online or at a pet store, you can ultimately provide better care for your dog and save money. Any product you buy from us is 100% guaranteed by the manufacturer, they will not guarantee product that you buy elsewhere. We also have lots of great coupons and rebates available that can save you anywhere from $15 to $50 depending on what you are buying. Now's the time to stop in and stock up, before the fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and other pests really get going.
I hope this doesn't lead to a 2 foot blizzard, but spring does seem to be coming early this year, and after a very mild winter. While this is great for us (sorry skiers, snowmobilers and ice fishermen) it means an early start to parasite season. We have been seeing fleas and ticks all winter but they will really be multiplying with this warm weather. Fleas can hatch indoors all year and ticks survive outdoors under the snow and leaf litter. On 50 degree days, last years eggs will hatch and young tick nymphs will want to feed on your pet (and you.) If your pet hasn't been on flea and tick preventative all winter, they should start as soon as possible. You will also be getting our annual coupons in the mail soon, offering great rebates from Merial if you buy flea/tick and heartworm preventive.
We realize there are lots of cheaper alternative on the market for flea and tick prevention, but in this department, you definitely get what you pay for. Over the counter preventatives simply don't have the research and efficacy behind them that the prescription products we sell do. If you try them and end up with a pet with flea bite skin infections or hot spots, you will quickly lose any savings you might have gained, plus your pet will be miserable and you will have pests in your house!! Enjoy the spring and hope to see you soon.
February is National Dental Health Month so we talk a lot about dental care. While many of our patients need dental care, the reality is that it is expensive and very difficult for many pet parents to afford. Some of the most common questions we hear when we recommend dental procedures are; why is it so expensive? my dentist doesn't cost this much? if it's just a routine cleaning, why does my pet need anesthesia? Basically, the difference between dental care for us and for our pets is that they are, after all, animals. No matter how well behaved they are, they will not sit quietly in a chair while we prop open their mouths, stuff plastic and foam in between their teeth, leave the room and take xrays of their teeth. They also won't open their mouths wide, move their tongue and let us put a loud, vibrating dental scaler in their mouths to remove tartar and plaque. The ONLY way to clean your pets' teeth is to anesthetize them. In order to make the procedure as safe as possible, we need to run pre-anesthetic blood work, monitor them while they are under anesthesia, and often provide IV fluids to maintain blood pressure. Ironically, this is due to the fact that most of the dental work we do is on older animals, if we did routine cleanings every year when our pets were young, like our dentists recommend for us, they would be quicker and less involved.