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January 16, 2018

Happy 2018!  Although Berks County has been in the deep freeze for the past couple of weeks, they are still out there!  What am I talking about?  Parasites.

The numbers are in for 2017 with 3.27% of dogs in Berks County having had roundworms (1 in 31).  Hookworms are in at 2.87% (1 in 35), whipworms — 1.07% (1 in 94), and giardia —  4.9% (1 in 21).  Cats fared no better with 3.29% (1 in 30) having had giardia, 1.12% (1 in 90) had hookworms, and 8.79% (1 in 12) had round worms.

So how do you prevent your family pet from being part of the statistics for 2018?  First, check a fecal at your next vet visit.  If you can’t get a sample, ask the technician or veterinarian to get a sample so we can test it while you are at the office.  That way we can address any issues while you are at Willow Creek.  Puppies and kittens should have at least 4 fecals tested in the first year of their lives.  This is due to the lifecycle of the parasites.  Adult dogs and cats should have 1-2 fecals a year depending on their lifestyles and health.

Kittens and puppies should be dewormed every two weeks until they are put on a broad-spectrum monthly preventative.  Adult dogs and cats should be on a year-round broad-spectrum parasite control.  The Companion Animal Parasite Council has a great website for guidelines for pet owners about parasites, the risks to people, and how best to protect your family pet.  www.petsandparasites.org

Let’s do our best to keep you and your pets as healthy as possible!

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.

December 15, 2017

This is the time of year when people make lists of what they want for the holidays.  So, I decided to ask our staff what they wanted from our clients.  This is what they came up with:

  1. Be polite.  A please and thank you go a long way.
  2. Be on time for your appointments. If you are held up, call us and let us know.
  3. Vaccinate your pets. Vaccines protect against a ton of deadly diseases, are safe, and keep your pet healthy and your family safe.
  4. Keep up with preventative medication for your pets. Flea, tick, and heartworm preventative can help your pet avoid a lot of nasty diseases.
  5. Train your pet. Get your cat use to the carrier and being handled.  Train your dog to walk nicely on a leash, stand on command, and have their feet, ears, and mouth handled.  It is much easier to do a thorough exam on a cooperative animal.  You will also appreciate not having to struggle to treat your pet if you need to medicate them.
  6. Take our recommendations seriously. We only recommend what we truly believe is in the best interest of your pet.
  7. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. There is some great advice available on the internet, but there is also some horrible advice on there.
  8. Ask questions if you don’t understand something.
  9. Do not give your pet over the counter medicine or human medicine without asking.
  10. Don’t take our equipment. We need our tools for our next patient.

And of course, we all want you, your family, and critters to have a happy and healthy holiday season.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D., Duncan, and Rio

November 24, 2017

It shows up on your television every Thanksgiving, after the parades, and before the football.  It is the Philadelphia Kennel Club National Dog show.   Held at the Oaks convention center the weekend before Thanksgiving, this show is one of the few benched shows in the country (the handlers and dogs are required to stay the entire day).  With over 2,000 dogs at this year’s show, that means it is a great opportunity for you to see and visit with different breeds.  Here are some highlights.

Dogs are grouped together by breed to make it easier for you to find the breed you are interested in visiting.

Breed rings are scattered throughout the hall so you can observe the dogs in action as well as back in their respective kennel areas.

It is also a chance to see unusual breeds in person; for instance, a Xoloitzcuintli (a Mexican hairless dog).

After the dogs compete in the breed ring, then the winners move on to compete in the group ring, which is what you see on television.

There are also demos and plenty of shopping as well.

If you haven’t taken a trip to the dog show, I would strongly encourage you to join us next year.

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.

P.S. My dog Duncan had so much fun showing, meeting, and greeting people he was exhausted when he got home.

October 16, 2017

October 15-21, 2017 is National Veterinary Technician Week.  This is the week we recognize what a vital role our technicians play in taking care of our patients and clients.  Without them, we would not be able to do our jobs.

So, who are these people outside of their jobs?  I decided to explore that question.  When I asked the technicians what their hobby was, I got a lot of blank stares.  Most of the time the initial answer was they didn’t have a hobby outside of their work and spending time with their families (a separate problem that I won’t address here).  When I pressed the issue, here were some of the varied answers I got (I promised I wouldn’t list their names).

  • Drink wine
  • Visiting breweries, watching the TV show Fixer Upper
  • Making soap, crocheting, quilting
  • Gardening, vacuuming (that is what she said)
  • Birding, gardening
  • Gardening
  • Walking the dogs
  • Reading
  • Reading, going to the lake
  • Milking cows, spending time with her niece and memau

I must admit, some of the answers surprised me, but the variety of personalities is what makes our team great.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Ladies, for all you do!

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.

September 5, 2017

With the recent devastation in Texas and Louisiana, the wildfires in the west, and Irma lurking in the Atlantic, it is time to review disaster preparedness for you and your pets.  Below is a list of things that are recommended to help you and your pets survive a natural disaster.

  1. Microchip your pet.  It is a permanent, traceable form of identification.  Any animal can be microchipped.  Make sure to update your microchip registration when you move, change phone numbers, or get a new emergency contact.  Also keep collars with tags on all cats and dogs.  In an emergency, there may not be access to a microchip scanner.
  2. Plan for a pet friendly place to stay if you need to evacuate. Consider pet friendly hotels, kennels, or loved ones.  NEVER LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND IF YOU MUST EVACUATE. Some shelters are now set up to accept people with pets.
  3. Start a buddy system. Exchange keys with someone who can evacuate your animals if you are not home when disaster strikes.  Give that person your pets’ information and your emergency contact information.  Make sure that person is comfortable handing your pets.
  4. Identify an emergency vet outside of your immediate area.
  5. Plan to have to temporarily confine your pet. If your pet is not use to a crate or carrier, take time to get them use to them.
  6. Know where to search for lost animals.
  7. Take photos of you with your pets so you can prove ownership (this is where microchipping can eliminate this problem).
  8. Assemble a disaster kit.
  9. Food – a one week supply in an airtight, waterproof container.  A can opener and spoon if you feed canned food.  Rotate the food every two months to avoid spoilage.
  10. Water – a one week supply in an airtight container out of direct sunlight. Rotate every two months.
  11. Basic animal first aid kit. One week supply of any medication your pet is on, plus flea and heartworm medication.
  12. Proof of vaccinations and photos to prove ownership.
  13. Collar, leash, harness, crate, collapsible food and water bowls, blanket, toys, and treats.
  14. Paper towels, dish soap, plastic bags, litter trays with litter

You can visit RedRover.org to find more resources for disaster preparedness.  Hopefully you will never need these tips, but it never hurts to be prepared.

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.

August 15, 2017

August 15th is Check The Chip Day!  This is a day to remind people to have their pet’s microchip checked to make sure it is working properly.  1 in 3 pets will get lost in their lifetime.  Without proper identification, 90% will not return home.  According to the American Humane Association, only 17% of lost dogs, and 2% of lost cats will find their way back to their original owners.  Four million pets are euthanized each year at nationwide shelters.

Microchips are inserted between the shoulder blades with a needle and is a relatively painless procedure.  Microchips are tiny transponders made of a special plastic or surgical glass.  They are encoded with a unique set of numbers and letters that when read by a scanner can be traced back to the owner through the company’s registration.  Most microchips read for about 25 years.  The reports that microchips are the cause of cancer are false.

Please remember to register your pet if you have a microchip, and update the information with the chip company if you move or change phone numbers.  Unfortunately, I have encountered several animals that could not be returned to their rightful owners because the chip was never registered or had outdated information on the registry.

Our staff will be happy to scan your pet’s microchip at your next visit to make sure everything is working.

Keep your pet safe – chip them!

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.

July 21, 2017

How many worms, ticks, viruses, or fleas on your pet are OK with you?  Ten? One hundred? One thousand?  I am going to bet that your answer is zero.  Unfortunately, parasites are a constant threat to our pets.  Most parasites are microscopic, so the threat goes unnoticed.  It is amazing how many people decline an annual fecal exam because “they don’t see anything in their pet’s stool”!

There is a very interesting website (www.capcvet.org) that breaks down the incidence of parasites in all the counties in the United States and Canada.  The following are the current statistics for Berks county:

Lyme disease – 18.9% (1 of 6 dogs test positive)

Erhlichiosis – 1.81% (1 of 56)

Anaplasmosis – 8.36% (1 of 12)

Roundworms – 3.11% (1 of 33)

Hookworms – 2.46% (1 of 41)

Whipworms – 1.11% (1 of 90)

Giardia – 4.95% (1 of 21)

Heartworm – 0.04% (1 of 157)

FeLV – 1.97% (1 of 51 cats)

FIV – 5.7% (1 of 18)

In our practice, we diagnose dogs with Giardia on a regular basis.  Currently we have 2 dogs that are undergoing heartworm treatment.  So, the threat is real.  Please bring in a fecal when your pet comes in for their annual exam.  Our staff is ready to answer any questions about the threat of parasites to your pet, and will help you formulate a plan to lessen the risk to your pet.

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D

June 16, 2017

The recent outbreak of canine influenza, affecting dogs in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, and Texas as of this writing, involves the influenza virus H3N2.  The strain is referred to as the Chicago strain, as it first appeared in Chicago, Illinois in the spring of 2015.  The virus is an extremely contagious airborne disease that is easily spread among dogs, and can be contagious to cats.  Two deaths have been reported in North Carolina. Listed below is some additional information about the virus and how to minimize the risk and reduce the spread of the disease.

The influenza virus is an airborne virus that is spread through proximity to infected dogs and can travel up to 20 feet.  It can also be spread by contact with contaminated items (bowls, leashes, crates, tables, clothing, dog runs, etc.).  People moving between infected and uninfected dogs can spread the virus.  Eighty percent of all dogs that are exposed to the virus will contract it.  The virus lives on soft surfaces for up to 24 hours and 48 hours on hard surfaces.

Some exposed dogs will be sub-clinical carriers, meaning that the dogs will contract and spread the virus without showing symptoms.  Once exposed, dogs show clinical signs within 24 to 48 hours, and can shed the virus for up to 28 days after exposure.  Most dogs recover with proper supportive care.

Symptoms of the virus are a dry hacking cough, a lack of appetite, lethargy, discharge from the eyes or nose, and fever.  Untreated, the virus may progress to pneumonia, sometimes severe, that may make dogs extremely sick with potential for fatalities.  Most dogs take 2 to 3 weeks to recover.

Prevention includes vaccination.  The vaccine requires an initial series of 2 vaccines, and full immunity is not present until 7-14 day after the 2nd booster.  Sick animals should be isolated for 30 days after symptoms subside.  A 1:30 bleach solution should be used to disinfect common areas such as tables, bowls, leashes, crates, etc.  The solution should be made daily, and a drying time of 10 minutes should be used before a new dog is exposed to the items.  Stainless steel bowls should be used.  Hands should be washed between dogs.  At a minimum, hand sanitizer should be used between handing dogs.  Disposable gowns, and wiping down shoes and clothing with a bleach solution are recommended after leaving an area where dogs congregate.

Willow Creek Veterinary Center is striving to keep up-to-date on the latest information regarding this outbreak. We are happy to answer any questions you have about your pet’s exposure risk; and whether vaccination is appropriate for your dog.

Dr. Ann Bastian

June 6, 2017

Recently I performed a dental on a 16-year-old dog, after which I removed an infected eye from a one pound, four-week-old kitten.  While the cases were very different, they had one common denominator.  At one point or another, someone suggested the patients should not have surgery based solely on their age.  Now I will admit, I kind of held my breath a little on the one-pound kitten.  It wasn’t because of its age; it was because of its size.  It was hard to dose the medication accurately; and even harder to get an IV catheter in.  However, I trusted my staff, they trusted me, and the kitten did very well during the surgery.

Age is not a disease process.  There are certain diseases that are more common in elderly patients; but the diseases, not the age, dictate whether anesthesia and surgery are plausible.  As an emergency vet, all my surgery cases were very sick when they were placed under anesthesia.  We didn’t have the luxury of waiting to anesthetize healthy animals.  Are there times when an animal is too sick to have a routine procedure on them? Absolutely… but the disease, not the age dictates that.

While I was at the Western Veterinary Conference in March, I attended a lecture on anesthesia.  The board-certified anesthesiologist described a phone call he got for a consult with a former student.  The dog was healthy, all the pre-anesthetic bloodwork was normal, but the doctor was terrified to anesthetize the dog.  When the specialist asked why, the local doctor explained that the dog was 27 (it was an AKC registered dog, so the age was accurate).  With a gentle prod and a reminder that age is not a disease, the 27-year-old Bichon had his dental done successfully, and the owner was very happy.  So, the next time you think your cat or dog shouldn’t have something done because it is older, remember the 27-year-old Bichon!

Ann E Bastian, V.M.D.

March 27, 2017

Recently a client reached out to us asking about the recent outbreak of Leptospirosis in New York city.  Three people were diagnosed with Leptospirosis in the Bronx, with one person dying.  A veterinary hospital in Paramus, New Jersey reported treating 5 dogs with 3 fatalities this month.  So, what is Leptospirosis?  Leptospirosis (lepto for short) is a worldwide disease caused by spiral bacteria affecting both dogs and people (cats don’t seem to get Lepto).  Lepto is carried by cattle, pigs, horses, dogs, mice, rats, racoons, skunks, squirrels, opossums, and deer.  Lepto is transmitted to people and dogs through contact with urine or body fluids. Lepto is also transmitted through water, soil, or food contaminated with urine from infected animals.  The bacteria enter through breaks in the skin, mucous membranes, or drinking contaminated water.  Lepto can survive in the water and soil for weeks to months.  There are multiple forms (serovars) of Lepto.  Lepto is found in all 50 states.  The World Health Organization states that very little is known about the true incidence of Leptospirosis worldwide.

Signs of lepto in dogs are fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, anorexia, weakness, depression, stiffness, severe muscle pain, and jaundice from liver failure.   Time from exposure to clinical signs can range from a few days to a month.  Lepto can be shed in the urine for up to 3 months after infection, especially if not treated appropriately.  Clinical signs in people include kidney disease, meningitis, liver failure, and respiratory distress.

There are vaccinations available for dogs, although the current vaccines only cover 4 of the serovars.  In the most recent vaccine guidelines, the lepto vaccine is considered a lifestyle vaccine.  That means that veterinarians may make recommendations based on each dog’s risk of exposure. Lepto is the “L” part of the distemper vaccine.   The vaccine needs a series of shots to start, and then is a yearly vaccine thereafter.  Contrary to the old wives’ tale, lepto does not cause vaccine reactions.  We have many people who come in to the office with the recommendation from their breeder not to vaccinate for lepto.  When a vaccine reaction does happen (about 1 in 10,000 vaccines), it is caused by the adjuvant in the vaccines.  Adjuvants are the liquid part of the vaccine that contains material used to stimulate the immune system.

I encourage everyone to ask their veterinarian about the lepto vaccine, and come up with vaccine schedule that best suits your dog’s lifestyle.  And yes, my dog is vaccinated for lepto!

 

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.

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