Archive for July, 2012

Thanks to our intrepid gardener, Tina Bryant, the little plot in front of our clinic has been showing off its colors despite the heat.

All photos by Jennifer Miele.

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     Great news! We’ve added a new dental care product to our line-up:  VetzLife Oral Care Gel.

     You may have seen similar products advertised on TV: a gel or liquid is applied to the pet’s teeth daily or weekly, and plaque and tartar begin to break down.

     No process is as fast and effective as a dental cleaning under general anesthesia, but not all pets are suitable candidates for the procedure. Instead, more veterinarians and their clients are turning to products like VetzLife Oral Care Gel to provide a safe form of plaque and tartar removal.

     Plaque and tartar removal do take time, and it requires consistent application of the gel. And if you feel that your pet won’t like having its mouth handled, you can pat some gel on his lips. When he licks it off, the gel will spread over his teeth.

     We chose VetzLife Oral Care Gel, because it offers professional strength plaque and tartar reduction and 100% all-natural ingredients, at an affordable price. It also kills the bacteria that cause gingivitis and bad breath.

     See two photos below showing actual results after thirty days of application, on two different dogs.


     Ask for a bottle of VetzLife Oral Care Gel on your next visit to our clinic. We’ll even take before and after photos for you, to document the difference.
Photos above were borrowed from with permission.

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     Here they are, folks. If you haven’t seen our Facebook page, you may have missed this. I posted several videos of squirmy, slimy Tapeworm segments (called “proglottids”) wriggling around on paper and under magnification. I even captured a Tapeworm segment spitting out its eggs before giving up the ghost.

A passel of eggs released by a dying Tapeworm proglottid. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic

     How did I capture these images on film? With a Panasonic Lumix digital camera, a Swift Ultra-Lite microscope, and lots of patience.

Really, Mr. Lincoln – the company you keep! Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic

     If you haven’t seen the racy videos of Tapeworms in action, click the links below to see them on our You Tube channel.

The Loch Ness Monster as seen through a spyglass? Nope. It’s a Tapeworm segment stretching across a microscope slide. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic

Live Tapeworm segments

Tapeworm squirm

Tapeworm segment releasing its eggs

Two Tapeworm segments getting cozy while I watch. Ewww. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic

     More Tapeworm videos are available on our Facebook page and You Tube channel. (All videos by Jennifer Miele/Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.)

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It’s amazing the fun I can have with a plastic bag, a camera and a microscope.

   On June 23rd, I scooped some flea eggs and flea dirt (for fuel) into a plastic ziploc bag. Periodically, I checked the bag and photographed the contents as the eggs hatched, larvae squiggled around, and a couple of industrious flea wannabes worked their way toward adulthood.

   Disappointed that I hadn’t thought to film the live larvae wiggling and squiggling, I’ve set up a new Flea Farm in a bag – this time with dozens of eggs. Gross, right? I’ll post those results as they become available. In the meantime, check out these photos of the normally unseen world of fleas. 

Flea eggs (on black paper)

Flea eggs on paper; photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic


Flea eggs (magnified; with “flea dirt”)

Magnified flea eggs and flea dirt; photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic


Isolated flea egg (magnified; with “flea dirt”)

Flea egg; photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic


Flea excrement (dried blood from the host animal; also known as “flea dirt”) This will be consumed by flea larvae for fuel

Flea dirt, often the first sign of a flea infestation; photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic


Flea larva (magnified)

Look closely to see the hairs along the larva’s body; photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic


Flea pupa in cocoon [left] and larva [right] (magnified)

Flea pupa safe in its cocoon, with larva and flea dirt; photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic


Immature flea (magnified) This little guy almost made it!

Immature flea, just out of its cocoon; photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic


Coming up on Tuesday, July 24th – I will post video on our Facebook page of live, squirming Tapeworm segments called proglottids. You’ll even get to see a proglottid belching out its eggs!
Caution: do not watch before a meal!

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Let’s begin with a partial list of the things pet owners may be embarrassed to admit to their veterinarian:

  • how much “people” food their pet eats
  • how little exercise their pet receives
  • how rarely the pet’s ears are cleaned
  • how difficult the pet is to medicate

All of the items listed above can be cause for concern, but difficulty in administering at-home medication can cut across all medical issues.

Compliance with doctors’ recommendations is a hot-button issue in veterinary (as well as human) healthcare. Some of the top reasons for lack of compliance in following a doctor’s instructions are:

  • the owner’s forgetfulness
  • worry of side effects
  • inability to understand instructions
  • inability to administer medicine due to physical limitations
  • inability to administer medicine due to scheduling conflicts
  • inability to administer medicine due to pet’s character
  • the pet’s refusal to accept medication due to objectionable flavor
  • the pet’s apparent improvement before the course of treatment has been completed

The list goes on. The real problem arises when an owner does not immediately reveal to the vet that they have been unable or unwilling to give the medication as instructed.  

What can happen? Well, two things, at least. 

1) The pet’s condition worsens, the vet is made aware of the dosing problems, and the patient possibly faces more strenuous treatment the second time around, since the disease condition has progressed.


2) The pet’s condition worsens, the vet is not made aware of the dosing problems and goes on a wild-goose chase to figure out why the pet is not responding to treatment. The vet may end up trying new drugs that the client is also unable to give. No one is helped.

Admitting you are unable to follow the doctor’s orders may be embarrassing to you, but watching your pet grow sicker without treatment is likely to be worse.

Our advice:

  • Make sure you understand all instructions given to you, including dosage amount, frequency of administration, what to do if you forget to give a dose, whether it’s okay to combine different drugs, and whether to give the medication with food or on an empty stomach.
  • Ask questions about anything you do not understand. If you get home and realize you have a question, call the vet ASAP.
  • Request easy-open (non-childproof) containers when needed.
  • Ask for a typed copy of instructions not already included on the pill container.
  • If you cannot give your pet its medication at all (especially if you fear being bitten), tell us! While this may limit our treatment choices, it will also save you time and expense. In most cases, once a drug has been dispensed, it is non-returnable. And medicine that sits in a cabinet, never to see the light of day (or the inside of your pet’s body) does no good at all.

Not every complication can be foreseen. Sometimes, the appropriate course of treatment is financially out of reach. Or perhaps your own health and life issues prevent you from doing all you would like to for your pets. It happens. In the meantime…

Let us know how we can better serve you when we dispense medications.

  • Do you need a large-print version of all instructions?
  • If a choice is available, would you prefer liquid or tablet medications?
  • Would you like a dosing demonstration?
  • Would you like a written timetable to coordinate administering multiple drugs?
  • Would smaller quantities help? It can be budget-friendly.
  • Would you like recommendations on flavorful pill concealers or other tricks* to improve the taste of medications?

It’s a team effort: the better we understand your lifestyle and capabilities, the better we can plan a treatment you can work with.

*Some pharmacies offer to compound drugs with a more palatable flavor. Though costlier, this may be the key to success for some pets.

We found this pet pilling demo on YouTube:  How to Give Your Pet a Pill.

What are your concerns about administering medications to your pets?

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     We can’t say it enough:  pet insurance can be a lifesaver when a medical crisis and financial hardship intersect.  For Virginians, the good news is, there are at least 6 pet insurance companies registered to provide coverage in this state.  The flip side to such a large offering is that it is up to pet owners to research the companies and their available plans, in order to make the best choice.

(Pets Best Insurance reveals its Top 5 Costliest Pet Insurance Claims)

     Veterinarian Frances Wilkerson has dedicated her website, Pet Insurance University, to sorting through the pet insurance providers for you.  (Find a list of reviewed companies under the Research Library heading in the left margin.)

     Make no mistake:  You still have to read the information provided, as well as contact the companies for premium quotes, but many questions have been researched for you.  Dr. Wilkerson recommends looking for these components when choosing pet insurance:

  • Coverage for cancer
  • Coverage for chronic disease
  • Continual coverage for chronic diseases
  • Coverage for hereditary and congenital diseases
  • Coverage for medical conditions common to your pet’s breed and species¹

Dr. Wilkerson also provides links to organizations which can provide financial assistance to pet owners, based on specific guidelines.  Emergency financial assistance may be your best option if you are unable to purchase pet insurance.

     Don’t wait for an emergency to arise – check out your insurance options today.  ~~  Jen

¹Practice Insights, Vol.1, No.1; Pet Insurance 411

This article was originally posted on May 17, 2011. 

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Heading for the woods this weekend? Be on the lookout for ticks. 

The Virginia Department of Health has produced a chart to help you identify ticks found in Virginia, as well as the diseases they carry.

Don’t skimp on tick protection for your dogs when hiking. A tick can easily hitch a ride on an unprotected pet, then transfer itself to you at home.

Tick-borne diseases are no joke for people or pets. The result is often severe illness, and some can have lasting effects (such as joint pain) if not treated in time.

Protect your dog with a Preventic collar. Preventic collars kill and detach ticks before they can transmit Lyme Disease, when used properly.

Protect yourself with a tick repellent spray containing at least 15% DEET if you’ll be hiking for up to 6 hours. (Learn even more at

Quick links to information on tick-borne diseases:




Lyme Disease

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever


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