Dog Bite Prevention

National Dog Bite Prevention Week is April 7-13, 2019. Over 4.5 million people are bitten each year and over 800,000 of those bitten require medical care. Over 50% of the victims are children and a higher percentage of the kids being bitten are under the age of 4. Over 50% of the biting dogs belong to family or friends, and greater than 77% of the bites occur on the dog owner’s property. These statistics show why it is important to always be aware of your dogs interactions with adults and children in and around your home.

Some general rules to teach your children to help avoid dog bites are:

  1. Never go near an unfamiliar dog. If an owner is present ask permission to pet before reaching out to touch them. If they say no, respect that and walk away.
  2. Never place hands inside fences or kennels to pet dogs.
  3. Never run from dogs as this encourages the dogs to chase.
  4. Never play with a dog’s food or toys
  5. Never approach a dog if growling or showing its teeth. A child not trained to be aware of this may think the dog is smiling. We show our teeth when happy.
  6. Never scream around dogs since this can be an instinct to attack.
  7. Never startle dogs from their sleep. They can come out confused and bite out of instinct.  Wake them first with touch or calling their name.
  8. Never leave small children unattended with dogs. Many homes trust their dogs and do not worry about their dog with their child, but what if the unthinkable happens.
  9. Never touch dogs that are sick or injured. They may bite because of pain.
  10. Never approach a dog that seems fearful and is hiding or avoiding you.

Over 30 different breeds have caused human fatalities in the last 30 years. There are certain breeds that appear to be listed more frequently than others, but the take away is that any dog can be vicious. Large dogs are more likely to cause serious damage but small dogs seem to have a higher possibility of biting out of fear and anxiety. Here at Winterset Veterinary Center we see dogs of all sizes, ages, colors, and breeds. We always are cautious, even when an owner indicates their pet would never bite. Often times when a pet does attempt to bite during an exam the owners are completely shocked by this behavior. We often times are not surprised since we can pick up on body language that dogs offer up indicating they are not comfortable with a situation. A few simple things to take notice of are dogs licking their lips, yawning, looking away from the person they are avoiding, tail tucking, and ears pinned back are all signs that this dog is not comfortable in this situation. Not every dog will bite after showing these signs but the potential is there and either the dog should be left alone or it should be approached with caution.

If you are fearful of a dog that is approaching you, DO NOT RUN! Even if you are the fastest person on the track team the dog will pursue you. Chasing moving targets is an instinct that dogs act on. Screaming is also important to avoid since dogs often hear high pitched sounds and consider it a sign of weakness. A reason to be silenced and attacked. Why else are they relentless with that squeaky toy to the point of silencing it? Children have been taught since early ages that if they are on fire — they should stop, drop, and roll. Please teach your children—ICE, TREE, ROCK for dog bite prevention. It may save their life someday. Ice indicates to freeze in the presence of a strange dog. Tree encourages them to stand tall and not look directly at the dog’s eyes since that can be seen as a challenge. Rock is used when knocked to the ground by a dog and you curl up into a ball and protect the face and belly with your arms and legs. As difficult as it would be, you should try to tell your children not to scream as this encourages the dog to continue to attack.

Dogs bite for a large number of reasons. I could not possibly list all the situations that could potentially lead to aggression or biting. A couple of important things to remember is early socialization, in the first 14 weeks of the puppy’s life, it is critical to making your puppy comfortable with new situations and all ages of people. Dogs that miss this window of opportunity can learn new social skills but the challenges are much greater. Avoid rough play with your puppy where you are encouraging barking, growling, or nipping at people. If allowed to play rough with one person, they will consider this okay with all people from babies up to the elderly. Start training your puppy to sit, stay, come, down, etc., immediately. These basic commands teach the puppy they need to listen and respect you.

A responsible pet owner will have their pet spayed or neutered to avoid unwanted puppies. It has been shown that neutered pets are 3 times less likely to bite. Being responsible also means keeping this pet for its entire lifetime which can be 15-20 years. Unfortunately, I have seen far too many owners give up their pets when they find them to be no longer desirable. Taking your pet to see the veterinarian for preventive care and seek out a training program that can help your dog live out its natural instincts. Exercise your pet daily so they can feel exhausted at the end of the day.

The late Dr. Sophia Yin has a poster about kids and pets. Follow this link How Kids and Pets Should Not Interact and get your free copy of this poster and share with your kids or students. Maybe if we spread this information, we will see the number of dog bites annually decline. Dogs are the most popular pet in households within the United States. Let’s work to make them the safest pet to have in our homes by being responsible pet owners and educating our friends and families about dog bite prevention.

Prevent Chronic Kidney Disease

Each February and September the IVMA (Iowa Veterinary Medical Association) invites veterinarians to attend their conferences. These conferences are held either at Iowa State University at the Scheman building or at Prairie Meadows Conference Center in Altoona. On Valentine’s Day, I attended the 2nd day of speakers and visited the booths of many of the companies that sell animal products from surgical to medical to dietary items. It is also a time we can share ideas and renew friendships with other veterinarians that attend the conference. New techniques and ideas are shared by speakers that come from all over the USA. Dialogue is encouraged during the sessions to enhance the learning opportunity for everyone.

I did not expect to attend a session that resonated with me so soundly. However, the sessions I attended were on the topic of Chronic Kidney disease (CKD) and how it is affected by other diseases. I have my own personal experience with CKD that I will detail to come. We learned about how important it is to screen for these different diseases early in our pets to allow a longer and better life. The take away is that kidney disease is something that cannot be detected on physical exam. Laboratory work is necessary to screen for this devastating disease. Dr Greg Grauer indicated that these tests are best performed annually so comparisons can be made from one year to the next. If elevations are noted this may be a cause for concerns even if we are still in the normal range.

The second session I attended by Dr. Grauer began by sharing some statistics of human kidney disease. I question if he was prompting veterinarians to “Go to the Doctor.” We should be more aware than the general population that these diseases cannot be found on physical exam. We should be keeping our diet and exercise in check to prevent obesity which is one of the leading causes of diabetes and high blood pressure. Diabetes and high blood pressure are common causes of CKD.

This topic of human CKD is very familiar to me. My younger brother was diagnosed suddenly with CKD in the spring of 2017. He was totally unaware of any issues before his diagnosis. The process he went through at Mayo in Rochester determined he was transplant eligible. They never gave him a definitive cause for his CKD. They recognized he did have high blood pressure. He had taken numerous allowable doses of Advil when in pain. He had a kidney stone a few years prior that may have caused a stricture in his ureter. He was born prematurely in 1965 and maybe had some damage early on. Whatever the cause he now was faced with changing his lifestyle while waiting for a possible donor. He was given strict dietary measures to reduce damage to the remaining kidney function. He was told to lose weight. He was placed on medications to lower his blood pressure. He made frequent trips to Mayo to monitor his blood levels while waiting to see if a donor could be found. They prefer to keep transplant recipients off dialysis, if possible, before transplant. This is a fragile time line.

Myself and my 2 sisters were willing to be tested to see if we could possibly be donors. The first step is an online questionnaire. Both of my sisters were not allowed to continue the questions related to health concerns of their own. I completed the survey and submitted it and later found out that I had passed the first step. They sent me a laboratory test kit to have blood drawn at a local facility to see if our blood types were compatible. Siblings can have very different blood types. It turned out that my brother and I were considered a “perfect match.” This indicates that we have the same blood type which is crucial. Yet to be a perfect match the other 6 subcategories need to match up as well. We were 6 for 6. They will do transplants with 3 or 4 subcategories of the 6 matching up. When these subcategories match up it may allow for less rejection medications and better opportunity for the kidney to live a long and natural life within my brother. The doctors at Mayo indicated that 52 years ago they had another sibling donor-recipient transplant that was a perfect match and both are still doing great.

In January of 2018, I spent 3 days in Rochester going through evaluations of my physical and mental health. I had my own transplant team that supported me through the process. If at any time I determined that this was something that I did not want to do, all I had to say was I have decided I do not want to do this and it would be over. They told me that even the day of surgery I could back out. They reminded me numerous times that I did not need to do this. They asked me numerous times, “Why are you doing this?” They gave me all the statistics from the successes to the potential failures. They presented the “What if’s?” What if my kidney is rejected? What if my brother does not take care of the kidney that I have given him? What if my family does not want me to do this? What if something unforeseen happens to you or your brother? It was almost as if they were trying to talk me out of doing this procedure. I guess in a way they were preparing me for anything and everything. It was only a few weeks and I received a call that I had passed and was able to be a donor for my brother. I waited to tell him so I could contact all my children and share the news with them first. I then made a trip north to let him know that I would love to be his donor.

November 21, 2018 was the date set to do the transplant. They would first operate on me and then soon after place the kidney into my brother. Both of my kidneys were healthy and so the left kidney would be removed. I would have two incisions for instruments on the left side about 1 inch in length and one lower horizontal incision about 3-4 inches to remove the kidney. There were 15 family members present in the waiting room supporting both my brother and I. We had prayers from more people than I can name during that entire procedure and recovery period. My kidney was placed within my brother and started working very quickly. The family would get updated text messages from the OR as things were happening. I am happy to report that my brother and myself are doing extremely well. I received a “Donor Diploma” from Mayo that I am proud to own. I am hoping that by sharing this experience it may encourage others to consider being a living donor. I did this for my “baby brother” because I could not bear to see him restricted from living the life he was meant to live. Mayo hospitals perform these procedures multiple times in a year and have high success rates for both donors and recipients post-operatively.

CDK issues occur in our fur babies as well. Transplants and dialysis are currently not an option. Obesity in pets is at an all-time high. We feel that if we love our pets, we should shower them with treats, chews, pet food, people food, etc. This is not the way to show love. Love needs to be shown through time spent with your pets by playing games and offering lots of tender loving care. Our pets will most definitely eat whatever is offered to them but I would encourage you to instead get out their leash or ball or both and go outside. The exercise will not only be great for them but also yourself. During our long cold winters, it is hard to spend time outdoors with our pets. I would challenge you to sign up for a class at the local dog training facility. Take a trip to a pet store to walk around and meet other pets and people. It is amazing how exhausted our fur babies can become when their mind is stimulated with new activities. Some hardware and home builder businesses allow dogs on leash to shop with their owners. Take them to doggy daycare for a day and see how tired they are when they come home. If the sun is shining and the wind is not blowing take a walk outdoors and be sure to wash off their feet when you come back inside. Some ice melt products can cause an irritation to the pads of our dogs. Strive to keep your pets body condition score at a 4 or 5. This will help them live a much longer and happier life.

If you know of anyone in need of a kidney and you have wondered if you could be a donor, do not hesitate to find out. I was told the oldest living donor Mayo has had was in his early 70‘s. My brothers insurance covered all medical costs associated with the transplant. There are grants and tax deductions available for out of pocket expenses not covered by insurance for living donors and recipients. My only restriction after surgery was no lifting of 10# or more for 4-6 weeks. I returned to work the day after Christmas and have been doing great. I expect to live a long and healthy life with my one kidney. I pray that my brother will be able to do the same. Either way I have no regrets. If being a living donor is not for you then at least consider being an organ donor after your death. The number of lives that you can impact after your death by organ donation is amazing as well. It is easy to have “organ donor” added to your driver’s license. Anyone can be a donor now or later.

If you are wondering if your pet should be screened for CKD or other health risks speak with your veterinarian. Most cats over 10 years of age and dogs over 8 years of age are considered senior pets. Starting laboratory testing at this time will offer a baseline for your pet’s future. Early intervention in the face of these diseases can offer added years with your fur baby.

February is Dental Health Month

February is the month that we focus on education about dental disease and the need for pets to have professional cleanings to remove tarter and decay that has built up on their teeth over the years.  Many pet owners do not know that this is an important part of care!  Most pets have some form of dental decay as early as 3 years of age since most owners chose not to brush their pets’ teeth daily. Brushing a pets teeth is the best way to keep them healthy. There are chews and special treats and diets that are helpful when attempting to freshen your pets’ breath or reduce tarter. Yet, nothing seems to work as good as regular brushing.  It is important to prevent your pets from chewing on items that are harder than the surface of their teeth. These items, such as bones, antlers, rocks, and hooves, will often cause fractures or flattening of the tooth surface. It is best to avoid these and keep your pets’ teeth healthier through the years.

Many studies have shown that poor oral health can have significant effects on other organs within the body. The biggest concern is with the heart, liver, and kidneys as bacteria becomes systemic and deposits within these organs. When pets have bad teeth, they often will not chew their food and that leads to more tooth decay. In recent years veterinary dentist have surfaced to help fix fractured teeth to prevent pain associated with the exposed pulp cavity. They have improved the bite of young dogs that were born with congenital defects of the jaw. Veterinary Dentists have repaired cavities to preserve the tooth that has been damaged. Advanced veterinary care has continued to improve the quality of our pets’ lives. These procedures are not for every pet but it is important that pet owners know their options. If you are interested in learning more about Veterinary Dentistry, we can refer you to the specialists.

If you have noticed odor from your pets’ mouth, I would encourage you to flip up their lips on each side and look at the teeth and gums. If you see more brown than white on the surface of the tooth or notice extremely red gums above the tooth surface, your pet is in need of a professional cleaning.  I wish we could clean a pets’ teeth without anesthesia, but pets could not remain still during the cleaning/polishing procedure. The biannual exams and cleanings humans receive are difficult for some of us so image how a cat or dog would react. I know anesthesia is a concern but ignoring a pets’ oral health is a huge risk as well. Once a professional cleaning has been done it would be wonderful if you began home care to reduce the build-up in the future. Brushing your pet’s teeth is the most effective way to prevent tarter build up. Other options include special prescription diets that will reduce tarter when the pets chew the kibble. A new product called “Oravet” can protect a dog’s teeth and offer fresher breath if offered once a day. Finding a healthy chew or toy that your pet will chew on at least 15 minutes a day can promote healthier teeth and gums. Avoiding soft foods and treats that stick to the teeth is helpful. There are any number of items that can help reduce tarter build up but nothing is more effective than brushing your pet’s teeth.

Teaching a pet to allow brushing of their teeth is much easier to do when they are a young puppy or kitten. At an early age we see more success in getting acceptance of handling their mouth and introducing the toothpaste/toothbrush. Starting this routine early, many pets will find it a fun daily event and look forward to it. The following video was created by a client of ours that has been brushing her pet’s teeth for a number of years. The teeth look amazing and she has yet to do a dental procedure on any of her pets. It really does make a difference if you are willing to take the time to brush daily. It is possible to teach an old pet to allow you to brush their teeth. It requires more patience and persistence but the rewards are worth the time and effort.

Click to view video of brushing pet’s teeth:

With the cold winter days, it makes getting outdoors with your pets next to impossible. Why not start working with them to allow you to brush their teeth? Why not schedule a professional dental scaling to improve your pets’ oral health and reduce risk to other internal organs? Your pet will thank you and those kisses will be more enjoyable.

Bring in a Stool Sample?

If your veterinarian staff request a stool sample…please do not bring them one of these! I got a good laugh when one of my clients presented me with this “stool” sample a few years ago. I keep it around as a reminder to be more specific when talking with clients about their pets. It is a great conversation piece as well. Why are stool samples, or more appropriately called fecal samples, important?

I have mentioned parasites such as fleas, ticks, and heartworms, but have yet to share important information about the “other parasites” that can be just as deadly if not treated. To start the new year off right for your furry friends I hope to enlighten my readers with some common knowledge about the “other parasites.”

Kittens and puppies are commonly infected with intestinal worms at the time of birth. The mother can infect her babies while still in the uterus and the parasites can be spread through nursing. The most common intestinal parasite is the roundworms that can be found in all pets but especially in kittens and puppies. These parasites can appear like a piece of spaghetti and can be seen in vomit or stools. When seen in stools or vomit you know that this pet is loaded with roundworms. The belly is usually more rounded and bloated. The scary part is that these roundworms can be present and no symptoms noted except microscopic eggs being found in a stool specimen. We encourage every owner of a puppy or kitten to have a stool sample check. These parasites are a stress to the immune system and need to be treated. Humans can contact this parasite and it will lead to infection within the liver, eyes, and or Central Nervous System. There must be direct stool to mouth contact with the parasite eggs. The most common place for this to occur is with sand boxes and children.  Cats love to use sand boxes as litter boxes and many children have been known to put sand into their mouths. We encourage people to cover sandboxes if possible and watch children when playing in them.

Hookworms are another intestinal parasite that can infect our pets. This parasite can cause anemia in any pet but especially the young. We also have seen skin lesions in heavily parasitized pets. Diarrhea is commonly associated with this parasite and can be difficult to find in a runny stool. The hookworm can be transmitted to people. It will cause a rash that can be itchy. Humans can be exposed through contact with the skin when walking barefoot or sitting in areas where hookworm larvae are present.

Whipworms are another parasite that can infect dogs more than cats. When present they shed microscopic eggs in small numbers making it difficult to find them in a stool specimen. They cause dogs to lose weight, have diarrhea, and sometimes cause anal itching. Anal gland impaction and allergies can cause anal itching also. Therefore it is important to consider all causes for anal itching. This parasite is less common than the roundworms or hookworms, but just as important to prevent.

Tapeworms are common in both dogs and cats. This parasite is the most common worm that owners are aware of.  When asking people if they have dewormed their furry friend, I often hear, “I do not see any worms in the stool.”  This is the only worm that 100% of the time will eventually be seen in the stool or even attached to the hair around the tail. This worm can be up to 6 inches in length and will break off in tiny white segments and eventually work its way out of the rectum and onto the stool or the area around the rectum. When it dries up on the hair or stool it almost appears to be like a sesame seed. If a pet licks or swallows one of these segments the infection will begin again. Fleas can transmit tapeworms and therefore infect pets when they swallow a flea. Rabbits and mice are common carriers of tapeworms. Guess who likes to eat mice? Our hunting cats are commonly infected by these parasites and therefore we recommend routine deworming. This parasite is more difficult to find in our fecal floatation, but owners usually do not miss this parasite when present.

What options are available to treat these “other parasites”? In the last many years our heartworm preventions have added intestinal parasite preventatives to their formula. At Winterset Veterinary Center we encourage owners to use Interceptor Plus monthly as a heartworm prevention and an intestinal parasite preventative for roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. As of today this is the only heartworm prevention that prevents all 4 of the most common intestinal parasites for dogs. Over the counter intestinal dewormers may treat certain parasites but often not all of them.

For our cats we recommend Profender which is a topical intestinal dewormer that can be placed on the skin and done 3-4 times a year. It will treat roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms. With both of these products the parasites are removed within a few days after the product is given. If the pet is exposed again soon after the treatment, they can get the infection right back. There is no product on the market that will continue to prevent or treat our furry friends after administration.

If your pet has been diagnosed with intestinal parasites, every stool that pet has deposited in your yard or litter box has those parasite eggs in it.  The stool disappears as it is being decomposed.  When the stool is gone the microscopic egg will remain in the environment. This is an opportunity for your pet to pick the infection back up. If your pet stays strictly indoors and is not a hunter and does not have fleas, then it would be unlikely they would become exposed. The one common cause that many people do not think about is bringing home that new puppy or kitten. Every new pet brought into the home is a potential source of infection for your current pets. Do yourself a favor and keep new pets away from your furry family members until they have been checked by your veterinarian. Definitely bring in the “stool” sample to make certain your pet is intestinal parasite free!

As we close out 2018, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for following my blog. If you have found a topic interesting or have a topic that you would like to suggest, please visit with me about it.  Winterset Veterinary Center hopes everyone has a happy and healthy 2019. See you next year!

Senior Feline Concerns

Often, I hear owners of elderly cats express during an exam that their cat is doing great since it eats and drinks all the time. When I ask why they believe their cat is losing weight, they want to blame that on age, they do not like the new food, they vomit hair a lot, or are surprised that they lost weight at all. Once a cat reaches 8-10 years of age, we consider them to be seniors. Cats can live 15-20 years so some believe they are still young at 8. Yet we often discover early symptoms of health conditions at this time. Senior Wellness exams are extremely important to help address issues hoping to avoid life threatening symptoms later.

Three key questionsto ask yourself about your furry feline friend are:

  1. Does my cat drink an excessive amount of water?
  2. Does my cat have larger clumps of litter in the box?
  3. Does my cat have changes to its eating habits?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, I would encourage you to speak to your veterinarian.

Cats that drink excessively usually will have a litter box that has larger clumps in it or the box is wetter than usual. The challenge is determining who is doing what when you have multiple cats in your household. Sometimes the issue is a cat not using the box and it is assumed a bladder infection when it could be a problem with needing the box cleaned more often because a cat is peeing more.

Changes in eating habits can come in many forms. Some cats will eat large amounts every day and continue to lose weight. Some cats will eat one day and then seem uninterested in food the next day, so people go out and buy a new food to try and low and behold the cat eats it, so they feel they got it figured out. Then a few days later the cat stops eating that food as well, so they do buy another diet and the cat eats again. We call this cyclic eating. It has nothing to do with you buying a new food and everything to do with the health issue lurking within the cat’s body. Some cats eat but seem to vomit often. This one causes most owners to clean up the vomit and relate the vomit to hairballs. Hairballs can be a cause of vomit in cats but in elderly cats you must also consider other health conditions. With all these scenarios, most of the cats will have gradual weight loss. Sometimes the weight will come off quickly in the case of an obese cat. Whenever a cat has weight loss and you are not actively trying to have your cat lose weight, this should be a red flag that something may be wrong.

The three most common age related conditions with these symptoms are:

  1. Diabetes
  2. Kidney Disease
  3. Hyperthyroidism

It is extremely difficult to diagnose any of these without doing blood work and checking a urinalysis. A cat can look completely fine on the outside but have one of these conditions if you are noting any of the above symptoms.  All 3 of these can be treated by diet and/or medications. The sooner we discover what is happening the better the outcome will be. Please schedule a Feline Senior Wellness Exam so we can monitor these different values as they age and make recommendations as needed for a long and healthy senior life.

Grain Free Diets and Heart Disease

Recently articles have surfaced indicating that dogs on grain free diets may have an increased risk of heart disease. The following article was written by a Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVN who is a pet nutritionalist at Tufts University. She has dedicated her life to pet nutrition and has a Petfoodology blog. The article is extremely well written and shares the concerns we as veterinarians have had for a number of years when it comes to pet foods. The marketing companies for pet foods have caused people to make nutritional decisions based on fads not science. If you have been feeding a grain free diet or a “boutique diet” or a raw and/or home cooked diet, I would highly recommend you read this article. We as veterinarians want to see your pets live a long and healthy life and nutrition is the foundation.

A broken heart: Risk of heart disease in boutique or grain-free diets …vetnutrition.tufts.edu/…/a-broken-heart-risk-of-heart-disease-in-boutique-or-grain-fre…

I am not going to add anything to her amazing article. It is extremely well written and explains in detail the important facts verses fads that are ever present in our pet food industry. She talks about what you should do to make certain your pet is not going to be affected by these nutritional fads and marketing schemes. She even has a pet food quiz you can take to determine how knowledgeable you are about your pets nutrition. I got 10 of the 12 questions correct. Take the quiz and let me know your score! For the health of your furry friends please take this information seriously. Have a Happy Halloween and remember to keep your candy away from your pets. CHOCOLATE IS POISONOUS to pets.

Fall Concerns for our Friendly Canines

As the weather changes we start to think about football and tailgates, bonfires and s’mores, but we also need to remember with the changes in weather our dogs may need a little extra attention too.

During the fall many families like to spend extra time walking in the woods always excited that the flying insects are diminishing. Yet the creepy crawling ticks are still present and need to be planned for. The deer tick have an active cycle in the fall. As you are crunching through those piles of leaves be aware of what is “questing” for its host.  We have great flea and tick products for our dogs that should be used until we have snow on the ground. Scientists have shown that ticks will continue to “quest” for a host even at freezing temperatures. I have removed deer ticks on dogs close to Christmas since there was no snow on the ground. We have no protection against these ticks for ourselves so it is crucial that you keep them out of your environment and off your pets.

Hunting dogs and dogs that get the opportunity to run through the tall grasses do have to be concerned about ticks but also about eye foreign bodies. Dogs and cats both have a 3rd eyelid that helps protect the eye. This elevated eyelid can easily get grass seeds or stickers underneath it. This can cause severe squinting, drainage, redness, and if left unattended corneal ulcers. These photos show the foxtail seed under the 3rd eyelid prior to removal with the corneal ulcer it created. The green stain indicates how much damage has been done to the cornea. Once removed, the ulcer can heal but it is important to have the eye checked quickly to reduce scarring.

As we start to pack away all the boats and campers for storage over the winter, never forget how dangerous our rat poisons are for our dogs. Since they are a grain base the dogs find them extremely palatable. All baits are harmful so do not be fooled by the labels. The new products are actually more deadly than D-con. With D-con at least we could do a lab test and quickly discover the dogs needed Vitamin K to help the clotting factors. The newest poisons cause edema (fluid leaking) within the spaces of the brain and severe seizures are seen. We have very little ability to control the symptoms and therefore many pets have died. Please make these baits unaccessible to animals.  Please seek immediate help if you have an animal that has consumed these baits. The symptoms do not occur immediately. The poisons have a delayed response but the response is dangerous and deadly so get help quickly.

Antifreeze seems to be another source of poison during the fall that can harm pets. Companies are starting to use the less desirable products that are not sweet and tasteful to the pets. This has reduced our poisoning cases caused by antifreeze. It is important to get help quickly with this exposure since once in the pets body we can see damage to the kidneys within 4 hours.

When purchasing ice melt look for the products that are not harmful to the pets feet. When pets are outside, these ice melt products stick to their paws and fur. We need to make certain the ice melt will not hurt their pads or their mouth or gut if they lick their pads.

Remember the cooler temperatures and shorter days make exercise more challenging so you must consider dietary adjustments to prevent weight gain during the fall and winter. Many pets gain weight during these cooler shorter days and they never seem to get back to their optimum weight. I am excited to report the poles for the Winterset Dog Park fence went up this week. This will be a great addition to our community when completed. Having a facility where your dog can be set free to explore and play will greatly help our pets maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. Happy Fall!

10th Anniversary of Hemmingway Joining WVC Staff!

Hard to believe that it has been 10 years since I showed up at Winterset Veterinary Center’s (WVC)  doorstep with my siblings. We had been born under a porch and discovered as we started exploring our surroundings more. We were captured and placed into a tub and left on the doorstep on an August morning with a note. Obviously, we were making all sorts of noise being all cooped up in that tub.  We heard voices and suddenly we had to blink and squint since it got very bright.  We started being lifted from the tub by some amazing people. Come to find out those are the same people that work at WVC and care for all sorts of critters. It was decided that we should all get fixed which was not something I was even concerned about since I loved all the special attention and great meals we were receiving.  At that time, it was discovered that I had a deformed sternum. This gave the staff a concern for adopting me out with my siblings since this could have other complications in the future.  They then decided to keep me as a clinic cat and named me Hemmingway. I recently discovered I got my name because of my extra toes on all 4 feet.  Ernest Hemingway was the first person to discover cats with extra toes and they call this congenital condition a polydactyl. If one parent has extra toes then 40-50% of the kittens will have extra toes if mated with a cat that has a normal number of toes. This condition is usually harmless. I do not believe that any of my siblings had extra toes. I was the special one and still am today.

Hello, I’m Hemmingway!

In those 10 years I have gotten to meet lots of people. I have been in the Bridge Festival Parade wearing my “Come with me Kitty” harness and leash.  I loved being out and exploring but the parade moved way too fast for me to keep up, so I was carried or rode the trailer a lot of the time. I did not enjoy the cannons or guns that were being shot off during the parade.

I also have visited the Winterset Middle School a few times as a way to promote Pet Health Week. Dr. Lonna would visit with the kids about the care of pets and importance of pet selection prior to bringing home just any pet that looks adorable. We all look adorable when we are little. The problem seems to come up when life events occur and people have not thought through the length of time that we will be needing a home.  We seem to live longer these years because of the preventative care and improved nutrition available.

I spend most of my days wandering around the clinic greeting customers and their furry friends as I desire. I do ask to go outside if the weather is perfect and you may see me at the door or in the bushes as you approach the building. I have learned to be cautious before showing myself to some of the pets that visit WVC since some are not crazy about me. Cannot understand why since I love everyone.

I would say that the best part of my day comes when the sun shines through the window and I can lounge around letting it warm me on those cool winter days.  As you can see from the photos that I do get a heavy mane and coat in the winter months. Of course as summer rolls in all that hair has to be brushed and combed out which seems to be another reason that people decide they can no longer keep a pet because of the hair and matts that develop.  It is so important that pet owners really research the daily care required for their furry friends so that they are prepared for all the grooming needs and/or shedding issues that may present themselves over the 15-20 years of our lives.

I have been extremely lucky to live here at WVC. My life started under a porch with little shelter from the storms and scarce food sources. I now have my own food bowl and litter box.  Constant protection from the elements and my only job is to allow the staff to demonstrate how to care for my coat and/or how to administer a pill. I hate that last demonstration the most.  I usually get a treat after so I have learned to be tolerant.

They point me out when discussing weight concerns of our feline friends since they are always let people know they should not let their cat get to be as “FLUFFY” as me. Obviously that is a nice way of saying, “ I am fat.” I like to always have food in my bowl and even if they offer the lower calorie stuff, I stay fluffy. They have tried to restrict my food but my response to having an empty bowl is to turn my attention to the smorgasbord of bags that are always available on the shelves within the clinic. Never a shortage of food in this building. I am a lucky boy to have all of these servants watching over me daily and making certain that I get all the TLC that I need to be an exceptional clinic cat. Make sure you become my Facebook Friend at Hemmingway Winterset. I love making friends.

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Cats and County Fairs

This month I had the opportunity to judge the cat show at 2 county fairs. I have done this previously and always felt that cats are a difficult animal to show. They are not leash trained so it can be a challenge to keep them from running away. It is also a challenge for a judge to get an accurate idea of their body conformation and movement. Most cats are extremely timid when removed from their natural environment so we do not get to see the true personality of the cats. Many cats are much heavier than what we would consider to be ideal since they get little exercise on any given day.  With all this information, I set out to answer the question:

Is there a way to improve a cats personality and behaviors that would make cat shows more enjoyable not only for the person showing their cat but also the judge and the spectators?

Yes! EARLY INTERVENTION IS KEY! This relates to handling and exposing that kitten at a pre-weaning stage of its life to all the things that a judge would want you to do with your cat at the show and to prepare it for the show.  Studies have shown that cats need a lot of handling before 9 weeks of age. Dogs have an open window for social skills until 16 weeks of age. Many families do not even get the kitten until after 8 weeks of age. This can make attachment to the new family a challenge in some cases if the home they came from did not spend time exposing them to new people and situations. As a kid I remember being told not to even touch the kittens and puppies before their eyes were open. We do not recommend that any more since we realize that the more handling they receive the better their social skills are. If you have a litter of kittens in your home spend time picking them up and turning them upside down, touching their feet, opening their mouths, combing their hair, and exposing them to as many people as you can in those early months. Introduce them to dogs, car rides, carriers, bathing, and other environments if possible. Early social experiences can enhance their acceptance of change as they age.

As I have practiced over the years and seen kittens grow into adult cats, it has become apparent that kittens growing up with preschool kids and toddlers are the best cats in my exam room. Now this may surprise you. What I suspect is that kittens handled by this young age group learn to accept that in life uncomfortable things happen and I never get my way. Think about it.  A young child catches that kitten and just holds on because if it gets away, they know they will not be able to catch it again.  So the kitten eventually realizes it does no good to struggle and just gives up. Also these kittens are put into backpacks, doll strollers, wrapped in blankets, and dressed up in doll clothes all while having to endure some less than comfortable positions while being held. They may be dropped, stepped on, or have hair pulled as the child learns the proper way to handle them. Together these things make the cat extremely relaxed with various interactions with people. Remember that this would apply to kittens that are having this interaction before 9 weeks of age.

Come With Me Kitty Harness & Bungee Leash

I am not advocating that every kitten has to grow up with a preschool child. What I would point out is if a kitten is struggling to get out of your arms, wait to set it down until after it has relaxed. Do not let it down in the struggle. Take the kitten to meet people wherever and whenever you can. Travel with the kitten to places other than the veterinarian’s office in its carrier. If the only time I got into my car was to go to the doctor’s office, I would most likely hate my car. Teach the kitten to accept a harness and a leash if you plan to show the cat or expose it to the outdoors. This is even helpful when traveling to the veterinarians office. A company called PetSafe has a “Come with Me Kitty” harness and bungee leash.  This link will take you to their website to learn more about the harness. Come With Me Kitty Harness and Bungee Leash by PetSafe – GRP …There are techniques out there to train a cat to walk on a leash.  It can be done. Cats are trainable but you have to find the reward that makes them want to do what you ask of them. Some cats are food motivated but others may have more desire to play with a toy or get some personal attention. There are links on the web that help people teach their cats how to walk on a leash or even do tricks. The earlier you begin these techniques the better success you will have.  Also teaching a cat to let you trim its nails, open its mouth, roll it over to groom the belly, lift the tail just to look, etc. can go a long way to make this cat more relaxed in a cat show and in your home.

I know many people that say cats and dogs do not like each other. Watching kittens grow up with dogs you see that they love to spend time with them if introduced at an early age. The same philosophy should be used when trying to make cats more relaxed outside of your home. Start by taking them places to meet as many new people as you can and go to as many locations as you can. The more they get exposed to new situations the better they will be when taken to a cat show or even the veterinary office.

Wouldn’t it be fun to see our cats walking on a leash in a circle while being judged on their body conformation and gaits? Wouldn’t it be great to let the judge see their true character during the judging process? Far to long we have allowed our cats to rule our homes and just accepted their independence. I want to encourage families who get young kittens to work with them immediately upon coming into your home to learn healthy social skills.  Attempting to change their behaviors later on in life is extremely difficult and next to impossible. The key is early intervention and socialization if we want to make our cat shows and our house cats more personable!

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2 Years of Blogging

June 24, 2016…..the day I posted my first blog. Two years and many topics later, I am still finding information to share about pets, practice, and life. I probably need to figure out what my audience looks like? The demographics of who reads my blogs? What topics get the most likes or views? In this day in age, everything is analyzed for gaining the edge on your competition. Isn’t that why we invest time and energy into social media? I have attended multiple continuing education sessions on the importance and benefit of social media. Writing a blog gives you additional merit and leverage with Google to help keep your position when people are searching for veterinarians in Winterset or Central Iowa. It is amazing to me how many people are finding us from our website. Gone are the yellow pages and local phone books. Now one just asks Siri or Alexa for veterinarians in the Winterset area and she gives Winterset Veterinary Center as her first option and indicates they have a 5 star rating if you ask her what is good about them.   We have had some great reviews since starting our website in 2009. We went through an update a little over 2 years ago and I suppose it is time to review the information and see if we need to make any changes. We need to make certain the information is accurate and easy to understand for any potential client that may be searching the web for veterinarians.

Google Analytics is a program that all websites within google can access to evaluate your usage. The data is extremely interesting and helpful to see what areas are of most interest to those that visit wintersetvet.com. 

In the last 2 years since we updated our website:

  • 88% are new visitors and 12% are return visitors
  • 2,235 users viewed 1.6 pages/session and averaged 1 minute and 12 seconds/session
  • 33.5% are age 25-34 and 27.5% are between 18-24
  • 45.85% are female and 54.15% are male
  • 52% use desktops, 43% mobile, and 5% tablets
  • 69% either use chrome or safari for their browser
  • 51% organically search verses 34% typing in wintersetvet.com and 8% and 7% respectively come from social media (Facebook) or referral from other sites(Winterset Chamber).

The most interesting data piece to me is a map of where our users live. It shows that 89% are US users but that other 11% varies across the world. The following map shows the locations around the world that have either accidentally or intentionally been directed to our website. France has had some repeat visits so we are wondering who may be following our updates or blogs there.

A funny story that occurred a few months back while I was on call one Friday evening. A man informed me he would be bringing his dog in on Saturday morning to have me remove porcupine quills from his dogs face. I requested we do the removal that night since Saturday’s schedule was already booked and sedation would be required. He insisted that we do it on Saturday morning. I politely told him that I was sorry but he would need to go to the 24/7 emergency facility on Saturday.  He said some rather unkind words and hung up the phone. The next morning he never called and I got to thinking how we do not have porcupines in Iowa. I had removed quills from dogs in Minnesota numerous times when I practiced up in St. Cloud. I googled Winterset Veterinary and up popped a practice in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania. Now they probably have porcupines. I decided to call the number back on my phone from the night before and share with him the ironic confusion that occurred. He did not answer so I left him a nice sweet message informing him of the organic search mistake that had occurred when he googled Winterset Vet. About 30 minutes later he called me back and we laughed as he told me I was the only Veterinarian that answered my phone the night before and returned a call to him. Since he was a truck driver he mentioned he may stop by someday while traveling across the country. Those types of mistakes would never have occurred when using telephone books. With our current google ranking, even in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania we are the first veterinarian that pops up when typing in Winterset Vet.

So whether you are local or around the world following our updates we thank you for stopping by. We will continue to strive to find ways to educate or entertain you with information pertinent to your pets and their health. We hope that you will consider subscribing to our blog by following this link:

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The blog will then be sent to your email each time it is posted. We never want you to miss a blog just in case the information is exactly what you needed to hear. Have a wonderful July 4th and enjoy the long summer days.

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