Have you ever looked at your pet and wondered why they ate something they should not have? Most times, whatever they have eaten will pass without issue- but there are times when it does not. This is the story of Harrold. Harrold is a 3.5 year old Spaniel who decided it would be fun to eat carpet. It did not appear he ate a lot, nor did he initially appear sick. Harold was seen and x-rays were taken which confirmed that he did indeed have carpet in his stomach and part of his small intestine.
While preparing for surgery, Harold did vomit a very large amount of carpet. Repeat x-rays showed he did empty his stomach, but had a large quantity remaining within the intestinal tract. To surgery we go!
We did find a large amount of carpet remaining within his intestinal tract. He required two incisions to completely remove the blockage. The surgery was a success! Due to the intensive nature of any intestinal surgery, Harrold would not be fully out of the woods until he can continue to keep oral medications and food down without showing pain or signs of infection. Harrold excelled at this and was able to be discharged and recover with his family!
What should you do if your pet did ingest something? Knowing specific amounts, brands, ingredients and approximate time of ingesetion can be of the utmost of importance. Give us a call if there is any questions about what to do for the next step following an ingestion.
Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT & Renee Schmid, DVM
During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is easy to let your guard down when it comes to preventing toxic exposures to your pet. While the holidays bring more challenges to the already difficult winter months, we cannot forget about outdoor toxin concerns frequently seen this time of year. Below is a list of holiday-related decorations, plants and food items that the veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline recommend keeping away from pets.
Holiday Ornaments and decorations:
When decorating for the season, consider your pets. Holiday decorations such as old-fashioned bubble lights may contain poisonous chemicals. If a pet chews on them, the liquid inside could be dangerous to their health. Methylene chloride, the chemical in older bubble lights, can result in depression, aspiration pneumonia, and irritation to the eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract. Glass ornaments that shine and shimmer are often an enticing toy for your pet. However, if they were to bite in to, or break one during play, the small glass pieces can lead to lacerations to the skin and mouth, as well as damage to the esophagus and gastrointestinal tract. Homemade dough ornaments pose a risk for causing elevated sodium levels that may lead to severe neurologic abnormalities. If any of these types of tree decorations are being used for your tree, it is recommended to keep them towards the upper portion of the tree, where they are less likely to be accessed by your pet. Many animals develop electrical burns in their mouth from chewing on strands of lights, particularly cats and puppies. It is ideal to minimize dangling light strands to make them less appealing to pets.
Another holiday ornament to avoid is tinsel. If you own a cat, toss the tinsel! What looks like a shiny toy to your cat can prove deadly if ingested. While tinsel itself is not “poisonous,” it can result in a linear foreign body when eaten. A linear foreign body occurs when your pet swallows something “stringy” (like ribbon, yarn, tinsel, etc.), which wraps around the base of the tongue or anchors itself in the stomach, rendering it unable to pass through the intestines. As the intestines contract and move, this string or linear foreign body can slowly saw through the tissue, resulting in severe, potentially life threatening damage to your pet’s intestinal tract. Ultimately, pets run the risk of severe injury to, or rupture of, their intestines and treatment requires costly abdominal surgery. Save your holiday bonus for yourself instead of your pet’s surgery, and keep tinsel, ribbon, yarn, thread, fabric, etc. out of reach!
Filling your house with the smell of nutmeg or pine for the holidays may seem inviting—but if you’re partial to heating your scented oils in a simmer pot, know that they can cause serious harm to your cat; even a few licks can result in severe chemical burns in the mouth, fever, difficulty breathing, and tremors. Dogs aren’t as sensitive, but it’s still better to be safe than sorry—so scent your home with a non-toxic candle kept safely out of kitty’s reach. Dry potpourri may also cause chemical burns in the mouth, and also potential foreign bodies and gastrointestinal upset depending on the size of animal and amount ingested. While candles are often scented with oils, the largest concern with ingestion is a foreign body and potential obstruction. In addition to an upset stomach, surgical removal of the candle may be necessary in severe cases.
Though they have a bad rap, poinsettia plants are only mildly toxic. Far more worrisome are holiday bouquets containing lilies (Lilium spp), holly, or mistletoe. Even bouquets brought into the house by holiday guests should be thoroughly inspected, as lilies are one of the most commonly used. Just one or two bites from a lily can result in kidney failure in cats – even the pollen and water that the plant is in are thought to be poisonous! When in doubt, don’t let these bouquets in a cat-loving household!
Other yuletide plants such as holly berries and mistletoe can also be toxic to pets. When Christmas or English holly is ingested, it can result in severe gastrointestinal upset thanks to the spiny leaves and the potentially toxic substances (including saponins, methylxanthines, and cyanogens). If ingested, most pets smack their lips, drool, and head shake excessively due to the mechanical injury from the spiny leaves. As for mistletoe, most of us hang it high enough so it’s out of reach of our pets – nevertheless, it can also be toxic if ingested. Thankfully, American mistletoe is less toxic than the European varieties. Mild signs of gastrointestinal irritation are seen, although if ingested in large amounts, collapse, hypotension (low blood pressure), ataxia (difficulty walking), seizures and death have also been reported.
Recently, florists have started to use Japanese Yew (Taxus spp.) to make wreaths – all parts of this evergreen except for the flesh of the red aril are very poisonous, as they contain taxines, a cardiotoxin. If ingested, this plant can result in dizziness, an abnormal heart rate (initially elevated, then slowed), hypotension, dilated pupils, coma, and death. As horses are very susceptible to yew poisoning, make sure not to have this around the barn or pasture!
Most people know not to give alcoholic drinks to their pets; however, alcohol poisoning in pets is more common than you think. This is because alcohol can be found in surprising places! Rum-soaked fruitcake, or unbaked dough that contains yeast, result in alcohol poisoning and other problems. Rising dough will expand in the warm, moist environment of the stomach and can result in a bloat, which can then progress to a GDV or gastric-dilitation with volvulus (twisted stomach). Signs of this include vomiting, non-productive retching, distended stomach, an elevated heart rate, and weakness or collapse. Secondly, alcohol from the fermenting yeast is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and affects pets quickly. Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure.
With the holiday season comes a delightful variety of baked goods, chocolate confections and other rich, fattening foods. However, it is not wise, and in some cases, quite dangerous, to share these treats with your pets. Keep your pet on his or her regular diet over the holidays and do not let family and friends sneak in treats. Foods that can present problems include:
Ice melts are commonly used around entryways and sidewalks and the containers that are filled with these products are often left within a pet’s reach. There are numerous formulations available, many of which contain salt (sodium chloride), and small exposures typically lead to stomach upset, and dermal and paw pad irritation. Larger ingestions may quickly cause salt poisoning which can result in a rapid onset of vomiting, excessive thirst and seizures. If your pet has consumed any amount of ice melt, it is important to call for help.
When it comes to the holidays, the best thing a pet owner can do is to become educated on common indoor and outdoor household toxins and pet-proof your environment accordingly. If you think your pet has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680, with any questions or concerns.
A passing comment led to a program that is benefiting students and community members alike in Ottumwa, Iowa.
Jen Chesnut teaches science at Ottumwa High School and would often bring her Goldendoodle dog, Gus, to school with her on teacher work days. One day a school administrator remarked that Gus was so well-behaved that he should come along to school all the time.
The idea took hold, and Jen began looking into options to train and certify Gus as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs are used to provide emotional and physical support in a number of settings, including schools, hospitals, and nursing homes.
Gus began the training program when he was four years old with the goal of passing a certification test through the Therapy Dogs International organization.
“He was already a well-behaved dog,” said Jen. “When we decided to move ahead with training him as a therapy dog, we went to an advanced obedience class and a therapy dog preparation class in Des Moines.”
Special training for therapy dogs focuses on a number of skills beyond basic obedience, including making sure the animal can ignore other dogs, will not be too social with people, will be comfortable with equipment in schools, libraries and other facilities, and learning how to approach people who may be in wheelchairs or using crutches or walkers.
After about six months of focused training, Gus passed the therapy certification test on his first try. In 2016 the Ottumwa Board of Education approved a board policy on therapy dogs, allowing Jen and Gus to fill that role. She began bringing him to her classroom for a few hours a day, a few days each week.
Shortly after Gus completed his training, Jen also got a new puppy. Piper is a Shepadoodle who began obedience and therapy dog training at six months old.
“We weren’t able to fit the Des Moines classes into our schedule, so I trained Piper at home and around town,” said Jen. “We worked a lot in the aisles of Tractor Supply to get used to being around people and maneuvering around equipment, and we practiced in the lobby of Pipestone Vet Clinic to be able to ignore other dogs and pets.”
Piper was able to take the therapy dog certification test after she turned one year old, and also passed on her first try. She was the youngest dog to receive certification that day, said Jen.
Gus and Piper now share duties at Ottumwa High School.
“I take one of the dogs to school with me most days, unless we are planning laboratory work in science class that would present a safety issue,” she said. “They spend most of the time in my classroom and are available for students to sit with them during independent study time.”
Some students practice giving presentations to the dogs, and other students with test anxiety can spend time with the dogs to relax and help them focus. Both dogs have become important members of the school family, with Gus’ photo even appearing on the faculty page of last year’s yearbook!
“There are also times when the school social worker will bring students who are stressing out or having a difficult time to spend time with the dog to help them regroup,” she said.
Both dogs play roles in other community programs. Jen takes Piper to visit the behavioral health unit of a local hospital once a week. She walks through the ward to visit patients in their rooms. Gus has been visiting the local public library for about two years for program where children can read to him.
“For many young students, reading aloud in class is stressful. They can practice reading aloud to Gus without the stress and have more fun,” said Jen. “I’ve heard from some parents that some students have started reading to their pets at home, too.”
Gus and Piper visit Pipestone Vet Services in Ottumwa regularly for yearly wellness checkups, vaccinations and prevention programs. In addition, a veterinarian must sign a certificate each year to verify that therapy dogs are healthy for interaction with students, patients and others during their activities.
Dr. Lori Hickie, veterinarian at the Pipestone Veterinary Clinic in Ottumwa has been impressed with Gus, Piper and other therapy dogs, as well as with owners like Jen.
“It is phenomenal to see how interactions with the therapy dogs can have such a positive impact. The dogs just seem to have a sixth sense to be able to provide whatever is needed to help students read, study or focus better,” said Dr. Hickie. “It also takes a very astute and mindful pet owner to train and care for therapy dogs.”
Congratulations! You just brought a new furry bundle of joy into your family! Here is a quick checklist of things to follow to keep your new puppy healthy:
8 Weeks Old
Is your pet's microchip up-to-date?
Microchips greatly increase the chance of getting your pet back if he/she is lost or stolen, but a microchip only works if its registration information is accurate.
Make sure your pet's microchip information is up-to-date between now and August 15, which is 'Check the Chip Day' across the United States. If you've ever moved or changed phone numbers or other contact information, it's more than worth the effort to make sure you've submitted updated information on your pet's microchip registry. Even if your contact information hasn't changed, it's a good idea to double-check that your correct information is included in the microchip registry.
Checking a chip's registration information is easy, and can mean the difference between heartbreak and a happy family reunion if you ever get separated from your pet. The American Veterinary Medical Association maintains a website with easy-to-follow instructions at AVMA.org/CheckTheChip.
To check and update a registration, you'll need your pet's microchip number. If you don't have that easily accessible at home, we'll be happy to scan your pet's chip for you; just call us to make an appointment to bring your pet into the clinic!
And if you don't yet have your pet microchipped, there's no better time than now. Microchips help reunite families. Call us to talk about the benefits of microchipping and schedule an appointment for your pet.
Take advantage of our Check the Chip Special Aug 14-19th. Normally $60 now ONLY $34.99! (HomeAgain Microchip registration and enrollment included.)
When Pam O'Leary adopted Chaz from the Heartland Humane Society about three years ago, they encouraged her to have the dog microchipped. She had never done this with previous dogs she'd owned but agreed to have it done with Chaz. Her decision likely saved his life.
Cha had been afraid of storms since being adopted and needed to be secured in a room. In fact, Pam believes that he may have run away from this original owner during a storm, which is how he ended up at the shelter. When a thunderstorm rolled through the area in June, Pam put him in the garage overnight.
Unfortunately, one of the doors wasn't completely closed and sometime during the night, Chaz ran away. Early the next morning, Pam realized he was missing and began to look around the neighborhood.
"We couldn't find him anywhere, and were getting ready to call the authorities,” she said. "But, around 7:00 a.m., we received a call from Pipestone Veterinary Services that he was there and had been hurt."
Chaz had been hit by a car and seriously injured. A police officer had picked him up and brought him to the clinic a little before7:00 a.m. Because he had been microchipped, the vet technician was able to contact Pam and she was on her way to the clinic when Dr. Lori Hickie arrived a just after 7 am to assess his condition.
He suffered a broken jaw and a hairline fracture of one of his backbones. When he arrived at the clinic, he was also in shock and suffering pain. Because Pam was notified immediately, she was able to get to the clinic to learn about his condition and treatment options and provided consent for the surgery that Chaz needed.
Chaz has recovered well from his injuries and the staff at Pipestone has been supportive during his treatment and check-ups, said Pam.
"They've always kept me updated on his progress and what to expect," she said.
"Chaz's story is a real life example that microchips save lives," said Dr. Hickie. "If we had not been able to reach Chaz' owner and received consent for treatment, Chaz may have had to be humanely euthanized. Instead, he is recovering at home."
A microchip is a permanent identification that is placed just under the skin of an animal. If the pet is lost and is taken to an animal shelter or veterinary clinic, the microchip can be scanned to read a unique ID code. This code is connected to a database with its owner's name, address and contact information, so the owner can be quickly contacted.
Microchipping is both affordable for the owner and a simple process for the pet. A veterinarian injects the microchip -- about the size of a grain of rice -- beneath the surface of the animal's skin between the shoulder blades. It only takes a few seconds and is similar to a routine shot, and no anesthetic is required.
In August, Pipestone Veterinary Services are running a 'Check the Chip' program to highlight the benefits of microchipping and to make sure that pet owners keep their contact information updated in the database. Call today to set up your appointment for your pet microchipped. If you already have your pet microchipped, it’s a good time to make sure all the contact information is up to date. Pet owners can visit the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool at petmicrochiplookup.org to check verify their pet's registration and make sure pet owners contact information is up to date.
"I'm thankful that we were encouraged by the shelter to have Chaz microchipped. If we hadn't, the clinic likely wouldn't have been able to reach me in time to get Chaz the treatment that he needed to recover," said Pam.
Dr. Breanna Estle joined Pipestone Veterinary Services in May. She grew up near Lockridge, Iowa. She received her DVM in 2017 from Iowa State University. Dr Breanna Estle is also bringing some new to the clinic, acupuncture! She has a special interest in using Eastern and Western (traditional) medicine together to better the lives of her patients. While in veterinary school, she studied veterinary acupuncture at the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine in Reddick, Florida. She received her Certification in Veterinary Acupuncture in 2017.
Recently Dr. Breanna performed on a dog named Kona, it was his first treatment. Kona was excited but had a gentle personality.
Learn more about Dr. Breanna's background and acupuncture from this Ottumwa Courier article.
We are all excited to offer this service, call to set up your appointment with Dr. Breanna today!
When someone we love – such as a beloved pet – dies, the loss often causes grief and intense sorrow. By physically showing your grief, you actively mourn the death of your beloved pet. This active mourning will move you on a journey toward reconciling with the loss of your pet.
What Should I Do?
Your journey of grief will not take on a prescribed pattern or look like stages. During the period when you are actively mourning your loss, it may help to consider the following:
Acknowledge the reality of the death
Acknowledging the full reality of your loss may take weeks or months, but will be done in a time that is right for you. Be kind to yourself as you prepare for the “new normal” of a life without your beloved pet. Just as it took time to build the relationship with your pet, it will take time to get used to him or her not being there.
Move toward the pain of the loss
Experiencing these emotional thoughts and feelings about the death of a pet is a difficult, but important, need. A healthier grief journey may come from taking your time to work through your feelings rather than trying to push them away or ignore it.
Continue your relationship through memories
Your memories allow your pets to live on in you. Embracing these memories, both happy and sad, can be a very slow and, at times, painful process that occurs in small steps. For example, take some time to look at past photos, write a tribute to your pet, or write your pet a letter recalling your time together.
Adjust your self-identity
Part of your self-identity might come from being a pet owner. Others may also think of you in relation to your pet. You may be “the guy who always walked the big black dog around the neighborhood” or “the friend whose cat always jumped on laps.” Adjusting to this change is a central need of mourning.
Search for meaning
When a pet dies, it’s natural to question the meaning and purpose of pets in your life. Coming to terms with these questions is another need you must meet during your grief journey. Know that it is the asking, not the finding of concrete answers, that is important.
Receive support from others
You need the love and support of others because you never "get over" grief. Talking or being with other pet owners who have experienced the death of a pet can be one important way to meet this need.
Things to Remember
The experience of loss is different for everyone and can present unique challenges.
The deafening silence - the silence in your home after the death of a pet may seem excruciatingly loud. While your animal companion occupies physical space in your life and your home, many times their presence is felt more with your senses. When that pet is no longer there, the lack of their presence – the silence - becomes piercing. It becomes the reality of the “presence of the absence.” Merely being aware of this stark reality will assist in preparing you for the flood of emotions.
The special bond with your pet - the relationship shared with your pet is a special and unique bond, a tie that some might find difficult to understand. There will be well-meaning friends and family members who will think that you should not mourn for your pet or who will tell you that you should not be grieving as hard as you are because “it’s just a cat” or “just a dog.” Your grief is normal and the relationship you shared with your special friend needs to be mourned.
Grief can’t be ranked - sometimes our heads get in the way of our heart’s desire to mourn by trying to justify the depth of our emotion. Some people will then want to “rank” their grief, pitting their grief emotions with others who may be “worse.” While this is normal, your grief is your grief and deserves the care and attention of anyone who is experiencing a loss.
Questions of spirituality - during this time in your grief journey, you may find yourself questioning your beliefs regarding pets and the after-life. Many people around you will also have their own opinions. It will be important during this time for you to find the answers right for you and your individual and personal beliefs.
Obesity is defined as the accumulation of excessive amounts of adipose (fat) tissue in the body. It is one of the most common conditions that we see in pets. There are a number of things that can predispose a pet to being overweight or obese. These include genetics, being spayed or neutered, being on a diet that is too high in fat or calories and also living a non-active lifestyle.
So how can you determine if your pet is overweight? The first thing to do is look at the ribs. If you cannot feel the ribs when you slightly press over the side of your pet's chest, then your pet is most likely overweight. Pets that are overweight also can have extra fat accumulate around the tail and typically do not have a waist.
When examining your pet, Veterinarians can use one of two scales to determine the Body Condition Score of pets. The first scoring system is a scale of 1-5 with 3 being ideal weight and 5 being obese. The other scoring system is a scale of 1-9; when 4.5 is ideal weight and 9 is obese.
Why is it so bad for our pets to be overweight? They are predisposed to a variety of health conditions such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart disease and they can overall have a decreased life expectancy.
What can pet owners do if they feel that their pet is overweight?
First, talk with your veterinarian about your pet. It is important to have your pet examined to ensure that they are otherwise in good health. With your help, your veterinarian can help you develop a weight loss plan. This includes calculating the amount of calories your pet needs based on their ideal weight. It will also include a discussion about activities to do with your pet.
Sometimes a diet change may be beneficial. It is always a good idea to decrease the daily amount of treats and snack that may be 'human' food. Sometimes one treat can be the equivalent to humans eating a candy bar. Some owners may feed 4-5 treats per day (that would be 4-5 snicker bars in a day!)
Ways to increase activity include daily walks, daily trips to a dog park and playing fetch for our canine companions. For cats, we recommend moving that food dish around to different spots, using toys that encourage movement and provided cat trees or places to climb.
Veterinarians are there to help pets live as long as possible. They can help you determine the best plan for your pet. There are wonderful stories of pets losing weight and feeling like young puppies again just from the weight loss. Visit petobesityprevention.org for other ideas and resources.
Source: The Growing Problem of Obesity in Dogs and Cats1-3 Alexander J. German4
As your pet ages, many of his basic needs, from diet to exercise, will begin to change. Pets are very good at hiding their health problems, and as an owner, it is our responsibility to keep an eye on them to ensure that you are adjusting his routine to match changes in his body and immune system that make him less able to cope with physical and environmental stresses. Routine exams, preventative medicine and adjustments to your pet's lifestyle can help him stay healthy even as the years creep up.
Different sized dog's age at varying rates, with larger dogs reaching senior status much sooner than smaller dogs. While each dog reaches 'seniorhood' at a different age, most canines become seniors after seven years including cats. It is important to know your pet's age so you know when he becomes a senior and can ask your vet about when you're pet's needs may begin to change.
Many different diseases must be accounted for as your pet ages. Such diseases include arthritis, cancer, cognitive disorders, vision and auditory problems, liver, kidney and dental disease, diabetes, and heart disease. Just as with people, regular health checkups become increasingly important as pets grow older and should be seen at least once every six months. The purpose of these wellness exams is to promote your pet's health and longevity, recognize and control health risks and detect any illnesses in early stages, which may improve treatment options. A typical exam will include health-related questions in order to build a snapshot of your pet's medical history. During the check-up, the vet will check for body tumors, signs of pain, body appearance and condition along with examining the eyes, ear, nose, and mouth for irregularities as well as listening to the heart and lungs. Many times a number of diagnostic tests will be ran including CBC (complete blood count), chemistry screen to check the liver and kidney, urinalysis, thyroid function, and heartworm and fecal test. Baseline laboratory tests should be ran early before your pet becomes a senior as this allows your vet to monitor any developing trends in your pet's health status as it changes from year to year.
As an owner, you should consistently monitor your pet's health between vet visits. Signs to look for include incontinence, lumps, constipation or diarrhea, breathing abnormalities, coughing, weakness, changes in appetite, water intake or urination, stiffness or limping, increased vocalization and uncharacteristic aggression or behavioral changes. Fluctuations in weight can be an early sign of an underlying disease and should be checked frequently. By keeping a close eye on your pet, this will allow a better insight for your veterinarian to be able to recognize abnormalities.
Adjusting your pet's nutrition is very important as these senior foods are designed to have less fat and salt, therefore decreasing the stress on the different body systems. Frequent bathroom breaks are also warranted for a smooth transition into those elderly years to come. These may seem like simple adjustments but they are very important for a happier healthier companion.
Along with being more watchful over your senior pet's health, it's crucial that you keep up with routine preventative care such as parasite prevention, dental care, vaccinations and nutritional management. As your pet's immune system weakens with age, the importance of routine basic care only increases. Always create a comfortable environment for your ageing pet with easy access to food and water and supportive bedding along with old fashioned TLC which is beneficial to both you and your pet.
Undoubtedly, your veterinarian is key to helping in your pet's transition through these senior years, but as an owner, you are also key to your pet's life. Together, your pet is on track for a long and healthy life.
Call today and scheduled your pet's appointment and make sure they are on the healthy track to living a long and happy life.