GSP

Moving into Adulthood

Skipper is now almost 8 months old! Time flies by with little puppies turning into rambunctious adolescents.  We’re still continuing training at home, a task that never really truly ends with any dog.  In case you were wondering how things are going, here’s a recent recap:

Potty training: we still have our hits and misses at this stage. If you’re running into the occasional accident, you’re not alone! Now that the weather is nice, it’s hard to tell when Skipper just wants to go play outside versus really needs to pee, so I think some of these failures are on us. We’ll be working on re-training the humans to recognize his signs!

Commands/socialization: In the beginning, I was pretty good about teaching Skipper new commands weekly or even daily. That’s kind of waned away at this point, and I think his brain would enjoy some new tasks. He LOVES to go new places and meet new dogs, although admittedly he went running through a winery unattended after pulling away last weekend.  No one is perfect, and everyone got a good laugh- this little guy is so fast!  We also went through a period of time where he would bark when seeing new dogs on walks. Fortunately, this was pretty easily corrected by redirecting his brain to commands and treats. Remember to always keep some motivational snacks in your pocket!

Teething/thieving:  Considering that just moments ago he stole a lip balm from my bag… I guess we’re still working on this, too! All in all, the incidents are much less frequent. He still seems to have some weird obsession with pillows… not sure where that came from!  Teething, thankfully, has pretty well ended, and we’re so glad that his adult teeth came in correctly, after the baby tooth mishap. I still make sure to keep some appropriate chew items around; those Busy Buddy toys are essential favorites in our house!

Healthcare:  Since Skipper is a well behaved, larger breed dog, I’ve elected to schedule his neuter for around one year of age, so we haven’t experienced the cone just yet!  He’s all up to date on vaccinations, and we’re doubling up on tick prevention with a Seresto collar AND oral preventives, because the ticks really seem to like his favorite hang outs in the yard.  So, what happens now? What kind of vet care do we have to look forward to?

  • Annual Examinations: Make sure to schedule an appointment for your puppy’s veterinarian to ensure he’s continuing to develop correctly, discuss nutrition, and behavior at home.
  • Vaccinations: All those puppy vaccines your puppy was given when he was just a few months old will need to be boostered at the 1 year mark. Some of those vaccines, like rabies and distemper won’t need to be given again for another 3 years, while lyme, leptospirosis, canine influenza, and Bordetella vaccines must be boostered yearly to maintain efficacy.
  • Heartworm Test: At 1 year, we also start performing annual heart worm tests. Remember, this test not only looks for heartworm disease, but also three of the most common tick borne diseases. Even if a dog is kept on monthly prevention year round, this test should always be completed once annually, as some sneaky bugs can slip by the preventives.  There is also some concern for the development of heartworm resistance, so we need to make sure that all dogs stay negative, and can safely continue taking their monthly preventive.
  • Deworming/Fecal: all that sniffing around in the yard puts dogs at risk for picking up intestinal parasites. Once a year, we recommend giving a dose of dewormer, and checking a fecal sample to ensure there are no unwanted parasites hanging out in the intestines.
  • Dental Care: daily dental care is the most effective way to slow tartar build-up.  If your canine companion is of a smaller breed, like a terrier, Chihuahua, or Dachshund, this becomes even more important. Your dog’s veterinarian will do a full oral examination each year, and discuss whether he or she will need a full dental prophylaxis under anesthesia with one of our skilled technicians.

The Skipper blog is signing off for now, keep checking our Facebook and Instagram for updates and cute Skipper pictures! We’ll be sure to share his journey through his neuter procedure with everyone this fall!  I hope that our trials, tribulations, and tips from raising Skipper have been helpful to some readers, and wish you all the enjoyment and amusement that having Skipper in our lives brings us! 

Have a great summer!

-Dr. Conroy & Skipper

#FollowFriday #FF #SkipperAndConroy

Puppy Eating

How, When, and Where to Feed

Our last blog covered a few things on how to select the right food for your puppy.  Choosing the right dog food can be almost as challenging as keeping all those fun extracurricular items out his mouth! If your puppy is anything like our Skipper, he’s equally as interested in the rubber and plastic bits of toys as he is puppy kibble. Once you settle on the right food to give your puppy, the next step is deciding how and when, and where to feed him. 

How

There are two main feeding styles for pets: free feeding, or allowing the pet to have unlimited access to food at all times, and meal feeding, where an allotted amount of food is given at specific times of the day. I always recommend meal feeding, for both cats and dogs, for several reasons. First, it allows for monitoring of an individual’s appetite and feeding habits. Change in appetite is often one of the first signs that a pet is feeling unwell.  Second, it allows for appropriate metering of a pet’s intake.  Dogs often eat way too much, way too quickly, and in their later years, this can lead to obesity. And finally, some types of food can spoil, or minimally become less appetizing, if left uneaten for several hours.

In either feeding option, you’ll need something to set the food out in.  There are many bowl options aside from the standard dog food dish. Skipper currently enjoys his meals from a puzzle bowl, as does his sister, Lily. We even use feeding toys for Whisper, the feline sibling as well! These bowls cause the pet to take a lot longer to finish meals and prevent them from eating their food too quickly.  There are many options on the market, and changing up the puzzles can keep feeding time fun and stimulating.  Always make sure to select a bowl or puzzle that can be easily and thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis.

When

When your puppy is young, his belly will be quite small.  He should be fed three to four times a day for the first few months to ensure that his stomach doesn’t become uncomfortably distended from being overly full.  For toy breed puppies, like baby Yorkies and Chihuahuas, regular feeding every 4-6 hours is also important to ensure that they have a constant source of energy, as these little guys can experience low blood sugar levels more easily than some larger breed puppies. Skipper was fed breakfast, lunch, and dinner until he was about 4-5 months old. As he got older and bigger, we started weaning him from three to two meals daily, by decreasing the size of his lunch meal, and increasing his breakfast and dinner meals.  At 7 months of age, sometimes he forgets and still thinks he should get a lunch, but otherwise he’s adjusted pretty well!

Where

Historically, most families have fed the household dog in the kitchen. This may work well for some dogs, but it’s important to make sure that your puppy eats in a location where he feels safe.  Large, open spaces can seem vulnerable, and make a dog feel the urge to guard their food or eat it too quickly for fear of someone else stealing it. Always make sure to allocate a safe, quiet space for the puppy to finish his meals on his terms. This may mean separating other pets into other rooms for a short time to prevent any altercations from occurring. Keeping a bowl of fresh water full near the food bowl can also encourage appropriate hydration following a meal. 

We know that feeding your puppy is a huge part of your relationship, and there are lots of conflicting sources of information out on the internet. The staff and veterinarians at Aldie Veterinary Hospital are more than happy to discuss your puppy’s individual feeding program and ensure it is right for both of you!

Buen provecho!

Skipper & Dr. Conroy

#SkipperAndConroy #FF #FollowFriday #VetsRus

Beach Fun

Pet Travel

As summer approaches, Skipper will likely be making some extra trips for vacation.  We can’t WAIT to take him to the beach and show him the waves and let him chase the ghost crabs, and see how he swims at the lake!

If you anticipate traveling with your puppy, it’s very important to work on acclimating to the car early, during the socialization period.  We started by taking Skipper on very short rides with lots of treats.  Ideally, try to get the puppy used to where you want him to sit in the car as an adult. For example, when we brought Skipper home the very first day we met him, he would only ride quietly on top of my shoulders. This was fine for 9 lb Skipper, but not exactly acceptable for the current, 45 lb Skipper.

There are lots of options for securing your pet when traveling, but disappointingly, not very many studies to determine the safest option.  In my opinion, making sure that your dog or cat is secured away from the driver is the MOST important consideration. Your dog should not be able to climb on your lap (or your head), bump any of your car controls, or distract the driver in any way.   Skipper has done quite well with a sling in the backseat which keeps him confined to the second row of the car, but gives plenty of space to lounge and look out the windows.  His sister, Lily, on the other hand, has to be confined to a crate, because she will not settle in and relax as readily.    There are numerous options including car seats, seat belt type attachments, kennels, slings, etc.  Choose what option keeps your dog calm, happy, and away from distracting the driver.

I do strongly recommend keeping some form of identification on your dog during a car ride, as a precaution, in case the unthinkable accident occurs and your dog leaves the site of the crash in the fray.  Because a collar could get lost or fall off, a microchip implanted under his skin is the safest way to ensure he is constantly carrying identification, and your contact information.  Of important note, these microchips do not help track your dog; there is no GPS capability to the standard microchip. I can’t wait for the day that happens! The microchip is only helpful if a Good Samaritan finds your dog, and brings them to someone with a scanner to retrieve the stored information.   You’ll also need to make sure to regularly update the information attached to the microchip, if you move, change phone numbers, etc.

For those dogs (aka Lily) who are very nervous during car rides, there are a few pharmaceutical options to help make the trip less stressful. These medications work beautifully even for short rides to the vet office.  Consider this: if every time you got in the car, you went to the doctor, you vomited on the way, and THEN had to get shots or blood samples were drawn, you’d probably really hate the thought of getting in the car.  For the animals who become car sick, there are a few antinausea medications.  Benedryl will work for some dogs, however, there are a select few who become overly excited from Benedryl doses.  I typically recommend giving maropitant (Cerenia) at home 1-2 hours prior to starting a car trip, long or short.

For the anxious creatures, trazodone or gabapentin (anti-anxiety medications) are great options to give 1-2 hours prior to leaving home. If you’re headed to come see us at Aldie, there is an added benefit of already having that anti-anxiety medication on board before you get to the clinic. Please don’t feel strange about giving anti-anxiety medications to these guys who are so incredibly worried at the clinic, or in the car. It is not a reflection on you, your training, or your pet. If you’ve ever experienced any level of anxiety/stress, you know how terrible that feels, and I suspect that our canine and feline friends feel the same. We CAN help these guys with a little “special” snack just a few hours before a trip!

If you are taking your pet on vacation, always make sure that your lodging arrangements permit pets. I also recommend bringing an appropriate kennel to confine your pet if you have to step out of your hotel room, or baby gates to cordon off dangerous areas of a rental house.  Depending on when or how you’re traveling, you may also need a health certificate to cross state or international borders.  These certificates can take some time to complete, so make sure to check with your veterinarian well in advance of your trip.  Ideally, at least have a way to access your dog’s vaccination records (rabies especially!), in the event that your dog needs to see a vet while you’re away from home, or there is some bite or fight incident.  Many veterinarians, including Aldie Vet Hospital, have user-friendly apps that allow you to access your pets’ medical records any time, directly from your cell phone.

Always make sure to bring your pets’ medications along and try to keep them on a consistent schedule.  I recommend bringing these medications in their ORIGINAL bottles, just in case there’s a need for a new veterinarian to know the dose and drug name.   If you’re going on a long trip, remember to check your supply and get refill requests in early.

If you’re not planning to take your pup along on a trip, there are a few options.  There are several boarding facilities around, which work well for some pets and often have someone on staff 24/7.  These facilities can be loud, and some pets can become very stressed in this type of environment, while others are unfazed and enjoy playing with the other boarders. There are also many in-home pet sitting services, or you may know someone who can stop by, or stay overnight, to watch your pets.  In either situation, I recommend pre-arranging an authorization for veterinary care.  Aldie Veterinary Hospital has forms which can be filled out ahead of time to authorize your pet sitter/boarding facility to request care for your pet in the event of an emergency.  It’s also helpful to create an info sheet for caretakers, including emergency contacts, veterinary clinic number, and medications for each pet.

 

Happy travels this spring and summer! Share your pictures with us on Facebook and Instagram!

 

Skipper & Dr. Conroy

Cone of Shame

Spay Day

Last week we covered the plan for neutering Skipper… so what about your female puppy?

There are many reasons to spay your dog, including eliminating the risk for a life-threatening uterine infection (pyometra), decreasing the risk of mammary, uterine, and vaginal cancers, and preventing unwanted puppies.   Small breed female dogs can experience their first heat cycle by 6 months of age, sometimes as early as 4 months.  Large breed female dogs tend to mature later; their first heat cycle occurs between 9 months and 2 years of age.  Heat cycles occur once to twice yearly in most dogs.  During a heat cycle, your dog will exhibit physical as well as behavioral changes, including vaginal discharge, and the desire to escape/roam away from home looking for a mate.  Skipper’s housemate, Lily, went through a heat cycle between her adoption and spay date when I was in college. I have lots of stories, but can tell you that it was not a fun time for either of us and something I recommend avoiding if possible!

Historically, it’s been recommended to spay dogs between 4-6 months of age.  Your veterinarian may recommend spaying a little later for certain individuals.  Similar to the literature for male dogs, there are studies which show a decreased risk for orthopedic conditions like cranial cruciate tears (ALC tears) or hip dysplasia for dogs who are spayed later than 4-6 months of age.  However, this benefit has to be weighed more carefully for female puppies.  With each heat cycle, the risk for mammary cancer increases, to a 26% risk for mammary tumors by the second heat.  Be sure to discuss the pros and cons of spaying, and the appropriate timing for your female puppy with her veterinarian.

We are fortunate to have two spay procedure options at Aldie Veterinary Hospital. A traditional spay is completed through an abdominal incision that is a few inches long; the ovarian vessels are individually tied off with suture material, and the ovaries removed from the body. Pets typically stay in the hospital the night after this procedure to monitor for post-operative complications, such as pain or bleeding.

A minimally invasive, laparoscopic procedure affords the opportunity to utilize a much smaller (about 1-2 centimeter) abdominal incision, through which a special camera and instruments are introduced. The ovarian vessels are cauterized during this procedure. These patients are typically able to go home the evening after surgery. Laparoscopic procedures are highly recommended for large breed dogs due to the decreased risk for postoperative bleeding and the ability to make a smaller skin incision.

As with any procedure, there are risks associated with each of these options including anesthetic complications, intra or postoperative hemorrhage, pain, or in the specific case of laparoscopic procedures, the need to convert the procedure to an open-abdominal approach if there are any concerns noted through the camera. Pre-operative lab work is reviewed for each patient prior to her procedure, to ensure she is a good candidate for anesthesia/surgery, and able to process pain medications postoperatively.  A licensed veterinary technician is with your dog for the entire duration of her procedure, from sedation to recovery.  Her technician monitors her vital signs, makes sure she stays warm and comfortable, and keeps her relaxed and calm during her recovery time.

Once she goes home, your dog will need to take it easy for about 2 weeks, in order to give her body and skin incision time to heal.  She will not be able to have a bath or go swimming until she’s fully healed. She will go home with pain medications to help keep her comfortable in the first few days following the procedure. It’s critically important to keep her e-collar on at all times during the entire recovery period. Healing incision can be itchy, and she may want to lick/chew at the incision site. This can introduce bacteria to her surgery site, or cause the incision to open up.  These complications can be severe, even life-threatening in some situations, and could require hospitalization, or a second surgery to treat.  About 10-14 days following surgery, your dog will be scheduled for an incisional recheck, to ensure she is fully healed and cleared to return to normal activity.

Be sure to ask your dog’s veterinarian about the right timing and procedure for your dog at her puppy appointment! We are happy to answer any questions at any time!

 

Here’s to the cone-of-shame pictures and keeping our girls healthy!

 

-Dr. Conroy, Skipper, and Lily

#SkipperAndConroy #Vetsrus #FollowFriday #FF

Skipper's Reaction

Neutering and the Cone of Shame

Skipper is now 6 months of age, a milestone which brings up an important conversation about the future of those two things between his hind legs. Does he really have to lose them? What health benefit is there to neutering my pet? When is the best age to part ways with them? Let’s go over some of the most common questions.

Should Skipper be neutered?
Breeding dogs has its place, for responsible, thoughtful breeders, who want to contribute to an individual breed’s future. Breeding a litter of puppies sounds fun, right? Who wouldn’t want a litter of tiny wriggling puppies in their house for a few weeks? But, whelping (birthing of puppies) is a full-time job. Keeping momma and puppies safe and healthy is tough, requires hard work, conscientious, round the clock care, and should be left to the educated breeders who truly have a passion for the duties associated.

Now, obviously Skipper isn’t having puppies himself, so where does that put us? Un-neutered male dogs (we call them intact males) are more likely to go off roaming, to find a mate. This could put another dog owner at risk for having to care for an unwanted litter and put Skipper at risk for injury on his wandering adventure.

Intact males are at risk for development of testicular cancer, infection of the testicular cord and/or testicles, testicular torsion (a painful twisting of the spermatic cord which chokes off blood supply to the testicles), and prostatitis (inflammation/infection of the prostate). Without the testicles, the risk for these conditions drops impressively, to 0%.

Some intact males may also have some undesirable behaviors, like roaming, wandering, marking, and in some cases, aggression/reactivity to other dogs or humans. Some groomers, boarding facilities, and doggie daycare facilities have policies that restrict or prohibit access to their facilities.

OK, so when do we plan this?
For small to medium breed dogs, anywhere in the 4-6 months age range is appropriate for neutering. For larger breeds, like Labradors, Rottweilers, Great Danes, etc., I often discuss waiting until the dog is more skeletally mature. There are several studies documenting a beneficial, protective effect of sex hormones on joint development in these bigger dogs.

The breeds listed above are inherently at a higher risk of developing some orthopedic conditions, like a torn cruciate ligament (like an ACL tear in humans). Allowing these guys to remain intact until around 1 year of age may decrease that individual’s risk of injury. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Skipper will never have an orthopedic injury if I allow him to stay intact until he’s a year old. Likewise, it doesn’t mean that every dog neutered before a year of age will definitely have an orthopedic issue. It’s just a factor in the planning process to discuss with your dog’s veterinarian.

What should I expect before, during, and after a neuter?
Within 30 days of your dog’s procedure, a pre-operative blood test needs to be completed. The lab work will tell us if his liver and kidneys are up for the job of processing anesthesia and pain medications. It also ensures that we know his red blood cell, white blood cell, and platelet counts are normal, which is important before any surgical procedure.

The day of his neuter, withhold breakfast to ensure he doesn’t become nauseous following anesthesia. Check-in for surgery is usually between 7-8 am. The procedure itself is fairly quick, usually about 30 minutes, and once your dog is up and awake, he can go home, sporting his brand new e-collar. Sometimes this is as early as lunchtime; it all depends on where your dog’s procedure falls in that day’s surgical line-up.

Your dog may feel a bit “funny” the night following anesthesia. Some dogs whine or pace, others will just want to go home and go to bed. He will need to take it easy for the next 7-10 days and MUST wear the oh-so-glamorous lampshade, to make sure he doesn’t damage his surgery site until it has time to fully heal. For those dogs who spend more time jumping around on two legs than walking on four, we often recommend a light sedative to help encourage him to stay quiet during the healing period. He’ll also have some pain medications for the first few days after surgery to keep him comfortable.

Since Skipper is a large breed puppy, and so far very well behaved, we’re planning his neuter for around 10-12 months of age. Discuss the best plan for your puppy at his puppy examination; we can help create a plan that fits each individual, and answer any questions you may have.

-Skipper & Dr. Conroy

#Vetsrus #SkipperAndConroy #FollowFriday #FF

I can Help

Outings to the Super Pet Expo

The Super Pet Expo is just a week away! This event has lots of fun things to offer both humans and canines.  For the humans, you can shop from many vendors of unique, pet-related products: beds, treats, collars, clothes, toys, etc. For the dogs, there are several activities: small and big dog play areas, a dock diving pool, and a lure game for dogs who like to chase!

 

So it sounds awesome, and you want to take your dog. But how do you know if your dog is going to enjoy his time at the Expo as much as you will?

 

For adult dogs, consider the following:

  1. Does your dog like being around other dogs?
    • Does he greet other dogs in a calm, friendly manner? Look for signs such as a loosely wagging, raised tail, ears forward, and a relaxed face.
    • If your dog is pulling so much that you don’t need to go to the gym tomorrow, and lunging at other dogs, he is not a good candidate. While your dog might be enjoying himself, he’s going to intimidate others.
    • Likewise, if your dog is hiding behind your leg, tail tucked, ears are back and his lips are pulled back tight into a “smile,” he would rather let you shop alone at the Expo.
    • Check out this link for more information on identifying signs of anxiety/stress in your dog: https://fearfreehappyhomes.com/fearful-fido/
  2. Your dog likes being around other people and is comfortable with tiny humans
    • LOTS of people come out to enjoy the Expo and look at all the cute dogs! If large crowds, strange people, or the unpredictable hands and fast movements of tiny humans make your dog uncomfortable, you should think twice about bringing him along.
  3. Leash Manners
    • With so many toys, treats, people, and other pets around, it’s very important that your dog is obedient on a leash to avoid an accident.
    • I strongly recommend using a harness rather than a collar. A dog who pulls on collars can put a lot of pressure on his windpipe, and cause discomfort, difficulty breathing, coughing, and/or gagging. Front-lead harnesses (the ring to clip the leash is on the front of the dog’s chest, rather than on the back) are really helpful for dogs who like to pull. Or look into a gentle leader- with a halter type loop over the nose. For any leash/harness, always make sure to read the instructions to ensure a proper fit
  4. Vaccinated
    • This is the MOST important consideration. Before taking your dog (especially a puppy!) out into a dog-dense location, it’s critically important that he is up to date on vaccinations to protect himself and others.
    • Dogs socializing with other dogs in public should be up to date on their rabies, distemper, and bordetella vaccines.
  5. Caution Alerts:
    1. If you are unsure of how your dog will react, attach a yellow or red ribbon to his leash and/or harness, to alert others that he may not like attention.
    2. You can also get creative and make a t-shirt with a gentle warning, “Anxious. Please do not pet me.”

 

What if you have a young puppy, working on socialization skills and outings, and want to use the Expo as a training time?  This could work, with a few precautions.

  1. First and foremost, make sure your puppy is on track with his vaccination schedule.
  2. Attend the Expo at times less popular times of day to avoid overwhelming his senses.
  3. Bring your pup in a cart/stroller to minimize exposure to germs on the ground, especially if he is less than 5 months of age.
  4. Keep some sanitizer handy for new people to use prior to petting your puppy to avoid disease transmission.
  5. Minimize or prevent interactions with other dogs, as there is no way to know their vaccination status or how they may interact with the puppy.
  6. Remember, it’s your responsibility to advocate for your puppy. It is OK to decline peoples’ request to pet your puppy or ask them to refrain if they forget to ask permission.

 

The Super Pet Expo is a very fun family-friendly event for all.  Make sure to bring LOTS and LOTS of treats from home for positive reinforcement. Keep an eye on your dog’s behavior for signs of anxiety, and make adjustments as needed. That may be offering some treats and re-focusing, taking a time-out in a quiet corner, or even leaving the Expo a little early.   Do not force your dog to participate in the dog activities. Remember to use lots of positive encouragement, treats, and patience.  For example, Skipper has not yet been exposed to water (only ice so far this year, sadly), so you would not find us leaping from the dock diving exhibit. We suspect he *might* like the lure exhibit though!

Have a great time at the Super Pet Expo, and make sure to stop by and see our emergency team at the Dulles South Veterinary Center booth for fun freebies from March 15, 2019 to March 17, 2019!

 

Dr. Conroy & Skipper

#SuperPetExpo #SkipperAndConroy #Vetsrus #FollowFriday #FF

 

Heartworm Sample

Preventives Part I of III: Protecting Your Puppy’s Heart

Virginia is a perfect environment for many parasites of dogs and cats!  Fortunately, we have a wide variety of products that protect Skipper and other pups from these nasty pests.  It’s recommended to have puppies over 6 weeks of age started on preventive products, to make sure their little puppy bodies aren’t susceptible to diseases and complications secondary to a parasite burden.  Let’s go through a few of the parasites we protect against:

 

HEARTWORMS

Heartworm disease is transmitted through mosquito bites, meaning that every dog and cat is at risk of contracting this disease. Heartworms set up shop in a chamber of the animal’s heart and can have devastating, even deadly, consequences on cardiac and respiratory function.  There is a treatment for canine heartworm disease.  The treatment process occurs over several months, and unfortunately, some parts of the treatment can cause significant discomfort to the dog.  There are also notable risks/complications possible. It’s SO much easier for the dog, and safer, to prevent the disease rather than treat it after the fact.  Cats, on the other hand, have no approved treatment. It’s also much harder to identify this disease in cats, and often the first sign is sudden death.

 

Even though mosquitoes are much less prevalent in the winter, Virginia winters CAN be mild enough on certain days that pets are still at risk. Think back to that occasional 60-degree day this January! Skipper was so excited to get out and play fetch in the false spring, but also very exciting for mosquitoes and other bugs. For this reason, we recommend consistent, year-round heartworm prevention administration.  Many heartworm preventive products also have the benefit of helping to cover for several types of intestinal parasites. While cats less commonly contract heartworm disease, the disease is much more severe.  For this reason, it’s also recommended that all cats are on heartworm prevention, as mosquitoes can make their way into the house.

 

Dogs should be tested once a year to ensure they are negative for heartworm disease, EVEN IF they are on consistent preventive products. Preventives are extremely effective, but there are a few resistant heartworms out there, that can squeeze by monthly medication.  Annual testing ensures that we catch and treat any sneaky infections early on. If you’ve recently adopted a pet with an unknown preventive history, or if you happened to miss a few doses, additional testing may be recommended. Also, the “heartworm test” has the benefit of looking for three tick-borne diseases (ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, and lyme disease) in addition to heartworms.

 

Aldie’s veterinarians recommend using a monthly oral or topical preventive:

  • Oral products: these are typically a flavored tablet or chew given by mouth once monthly. This is the easiest option and the most common choice of pet owners. Most of the products taste delicious; Skipper thinks he’s just getting another treat! I can even get some good high five’s before giving his medication. It’s really a win-win situation for us!
  • Topical: this is more commonly used to administer heartworm prevention in cats, though there are topical dog products as well.

Here’s to long lives and happy, worm-free hearts!

-Dr. Conroy & Skipper

See more information on heartworm disease

#Vetsrus #SkipperAndConroy #FF #FollowFriday

Skipper_in_the-bath

Veterinary Pet Insurance Companies

While Skipper is young (and highly accident prone!), I’ve been looking into pet insurance.  Often the rates are lower when applying for coverage for a young/healthy dog, as compared to an older dog with chronic conditions.  These policies are becoming more and more common and can offer peace of mind in an emergency setting.  There are several different types of insurance and many companies from which to choose.

There are two main categories on the market right now: all-inclusive/complete insurance and accident/illness insurance. All-inclusive/complete insurance will help cover part or all costs of your dog’s annual examinations, routine vaccines, as well as assist with covering any sort of emergency care.  Accident/illness coverage will not help with annual examination and vaccine costs and is geared more towards unexpected, emergent issues, or chronic conditions requiring extended care.

 

For most pets, their annual examination is planned ahead of time, and the vaccine recommendations are fairly stable from year to year. Typically, these costs can be anticipated and planned for in advance. Conversely, Skipper doesn’t particularly care if it’s Christmas time or just a random Tuesday when he starts eyeballing socks to eat. In sudden, emergency situations, it can be helpful to have an accident/illness policy to alleviate some of the unanticipated financial burdens.  Owners often feel much less stress and pressure making health decisions for their fur-baby during emergencies when they know they can count on some assistance from a pet insurance company.

There are many options out there, depending on your goals for the pet insurance policy, budget, and risk aversion. Please be sure that you read all the fine print and speak with the insurance companies directly to fully understand your policy.

 

Pet insurance is a bit different from human insurance, in that your veterinarian’s office doesn’t typically work directly with the insurance company. The veterinarian is typically responsible for signing a paper verifying diagnoses and invoices for the insurance company. But, in most cases, the pet owner is responsible for covering the costs initially, filing the claim/receipt with the insurance company, and ensuring that the company reimburses them in a timely manner.  From my experience, most companies will reimburse within a 30-60 day period.

 

ASPCA, Embrace, and Trupanion are all very reputable companies, with a few different options.  Your own insurance company, such as Nationwide, may also offer a policy which could be bundled with your existing insurance policies.   The policies often have waiting periods of 2-4 weeks, so you’ll want to have it ready to go before your puppy decides to eat that chocolate or sock. We hope that you’ll never need it, but it’s always nice to have a little extra security if there is an incident.

There are so many different companies out there that it can be overwhelming on where to start and how to begin comparing the many available policies. This article provides a great chart comparing many of the well-known insurance companies out there. In addition, this is a great questionnaire to help make sure you are asking all the right questions.

 

Happy Shopping!

 

-Dr. Conroy & Skipper

 

Puppy Vaccines

Core Vaccines: What Are They and Why Does My Puppy Need Them?

The first few months of your puppy’s life are filled with many important responsibilities. For you at home, that means lots of love, training, and teaching him to be a good pet. For us at Aldie Veterinary Hospital, that includes making sure we’re working together to make sure he’s healthy and protected against diseases and parasites.  Your first vet visit can be overwhelming, and information from Dr. Google can be confusing and scary.  Please feel free to ask any questions about diseases, vaccines, and preventive measures you may have. We are here to help and provide you with evidence-based information.

There are two main groups of vaccines for your puppy: core and non-core. Core vaccines are essential vaccines for all dogs to receive throughout their lives. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) lists the rabies vaccine and the combination distemper/parvovirus/adenovirus vaccine in this category. These are dangerous, contagious diseases which are typically preventable with appropriate immunization.

The need for a “noncore” vaccine is based on each individual dog’s lifestyle.  There are four main vaccines listed by AAHA for this category. Your veterinarian is the absolute best resource to help you determine if your dog should have these vaccines; be sure to tell them about where your dog will live, if he will travel, and if he will be around other dogs often, so that you can work together to create a tailored, individual vaccine plan to protect him.

Let’s start by discussing the core vaccines: rabies and distemper.

 

Rabies

Rabies, of important note, is 100% fatal and can be transmitted to humans via contact with saliva from infected animals. Because of this risk, all dogs over the age of 16 weeks are required by Virginia law to be up to date on their rabies vaccination. The rabies vaccine is given once as a puppy, then boostered once at 1 year of age, followed by once every 3 years from then on.  In the event of an altercation with a wild animal outside, the vaccine is often boostered again as a precaution.

Virginia State Law has very strict protocols for unvaccinated dogs who are exposed to possibly infected wildlife, or if there is a dog-human bite incident.  Depending on the scenario, these protocols range from strict quarantine to euthanasia, so it’s important for your dog to stay current on this vaccine.  In our area, raccoons are the number one source of rabies, though other animals like foxes, skunks, and bats could also be carriers. You can help decrease your pet’s risk of encountering one of these animals by securing trash cans and other food sources outside, and always being vigilant about watching your pet outside.

Check out rabiesaware.org for more information.

 

Distemper/Adenovirus/Parvovirus/Parainfluenza aka DA2PP

Veterinarians often refer to this vaccine as just the “distemper vaccine,” but, it is actually a power-packed combination vaccine that offers protection against distemper virus, parvovirus, adenovirus, and parainfluenza virus.  These are all viruses which are transmitted amongst dogs through sneezing, coughing, or sharing bowls. Some viruses can also be passed directly from a mom to her pups.

Distemper virus starts with respiratory/eye symptoms before progressing to neurologic disease. It can be fatal, and some pups that survive will have lifelong deficits. Parvovirus causes severe gastrointestinal disease with profuse vomiting, dehydration, and diarrhea. Affected puppies require intensive care in a hospital for many days at best, but unfortunately many do not survive. Adenovirus affects the lining of blood vessels and can damage many important organs, including the liver, kidneys, spleen, lungs, and eyes. Infected dogs may require blood transfusions, or may not survive the disease. Parainfluenza virus is a highly contagious respiratory virus which causes signs such as nasal discharge, coughing, and fever. Young puppies are at the highest risk for contracting all four of these diseases and suffering from complications associated with them.

Fortunately, we can keep your puppy safe from these diseases with appropriate vaccination. This starts with a vaccine once around 8 weeks of age, then a repeated booster every 3-4 weeks until he/she is over 16 weeks of age. Puppies younger than 4-5 months of age are most susceptible to these diseases, so it’s important to stay on schedule with frequent boosters. He likely has some immunity to these diseases from his mom, but over the first few months of life, her immunity will wear off, and we need to be there with our vaccine to take over protection duties. Your dog will receive another booster at 1 year of age, and then every 3 years from then on, similar to the rabies vaccine.

 

Bordetella

Bordetella bronchiseptica is more commonly known as kennel cough. This is a respiratory disease that’s easily shared amongst dogs at parks, veterinary clinics, boarding facilities, doggie daycare, etc.  This vaccine is a liquid absorbed across the lining of the nose or mouth.  No shot needed, and most dogs just think we’ve given them a weird tasting bit of squeeze cheese. At Aldie Veterinary Hospital, we consider this a core vaccine for all our patients, to ensure the safety of all our patients when they come into the clinic for exams, boarding, or treatments.

 

Making It Fun

Aldie Veterinary Hospital staff members are trained in how to make the vaccination process as easy as possible for your pet.  Squeeze cheese, peanut butter, baby food, or other yummy snacks are great distractors and often the puppies don’t even notice the small needle used to give their vaccinations because they are so excited about the treats!

Stay tuned for next week’s blog which covers the three non-core, or lifestyle based, vaccines!

 

Much love from a happy, healthy, and vaccinated Skipper!

#SkipperAndConroy #Vetsrus #Puppy

Chewing Away

Teething & Toys

Puppy teething is upon us.  From about 4-6 months of age, a puppy’s baby teeth will fall out and permanent teeth come in.  You may not see this happen, since puppies often swallow baby teeth during eating/playing, but during this time it’s pretty common for chewing and biting behaviors to worsen. Keep up the remove and replace techniques, and stock up on some good chew toys!

At about 15 weeks of age, Skipper starting teething more than ever, even reaching for our coffee table legs for the first time! So like all good parents, we took him on a socialization outing to Petco and let him pick out some new things.  Adorably, he lost his two front teeth over Christmas! He’s currently completely snaggle-toothed and the baby canine teeth are next to go! Below is a list of some of our favorite toys and chew items.  Keep in mind that NO toy is indestructible, so always monitor your puppy closely and inspect toys for tears/damage often to avoid swallowing hazards.

 

Dr. Conroy’s Favorites 

Skipper’s Favorites

 

Playology Scent Infused Chew Toys

–        These smell faintly like bacon or peanut butter, and supposedly smell more strongly as the dog chews

–        They seem pretty sturdy, and are firm enough for gnawing without breaking pieces off, but squishy enough I’m not worried about him breaking his teeth

–        Cost: $9-15ish

 

 

Plastic Bottles

–        Tropicana OJ and soda bottles are my top choices.  They’re so crunchy and crackly!

–        Mom always takes all the tasty labels, caps, and rings away so I can’t eat them

–        I love trying to get kibbles and peanut butter out of the bottle! And all the loud noise it makes clunking across the floor!

–        Cost: free, PLUS it’s recycling!

 

Nonstuffed Toys:

–        Tightly bound rope toys and knots: watch these for stray strings that can be swallowed

–        Plubber toys are a bit more durable than plush toys, though they are NOT indestructible, especially for terrier teeth!

–        Rubber squeak toys: no fluff to swallow, but watch for disembowelment and squeaker removal

–        Cost: $5-10

 

 

Literally Anything I Can Destuff and Destroy

–        Fluff is SO FUN.

–        It’s a little dry but I still try to swallow it as mom and dad untangle it from my teethies

–        I’m allowed to play with nonpunctured fluff toys under supervision, the nylon ones get to stay on the floor longer!

–        Grandma comes over sometimes to replace squeakers and sew them back together! It’s like Christmas all over again!

–        Cost: $1-$10

 

Kongs:

–        These are great for tossing in a kennel at bedtime or while you’re away for a bit

–        Line the inside with a bit of peanut butter, or toss some kibbles in!

–        Not 100% chew-proof, but pretty durable

–        Freeze low sodium chicken broth, water, and vegetable mixes for an outdoor summer treat!

–        Cost: $5-20

Socks and Shoes:

–        My humans’ feet smell ah-mazing.

–        These are soft and fun to nom on, especially Dad’s thick winter socks and Mom’s slippers!

–        For some reason these vanish and another fun toy appears real fast, but I love to shop for them in the closet!

–        Cost: $2- $5000 for foreign body surgery

 

Nylabones:

–        Any sort of rubber bone or ring can be helpful in the peak teething.

–        Less likely to be destroyed, but Lily once ate a good chunk of one as a puppy.

–        Many different textures/flavors available

–        Toss them in the freezer when the puppy’s teeth seem particularly uncomfortable!

–        Cost: $5-20

Cat Toys:

–        The  purrfect size for my tiny puppy mouth

–        She has toys that squeak like REAL mice!

–        They have this weird scent that my booply snoot likes to snuffle… some sort of catnip? We have a bush of it outside, too!

–        These apparently live on the coffee table now after I tried to eat one.

–        Cost: priceless hatred from the cat

Happy shopping!

Dr. Conroy, Skipper, and the Tooth Fairy