Archive for November, 2013

Image from Vintage Holiday Crafts.


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If you think only people can catch the flu – think again. A flu strain known as H3N8 affects dogs all over America.

Get the facts here, then make an appointment with us to vaccinate your dog for Canine Influenza.

Some quick facts about Canine Flu:

  • Only affects dogs
  • First reported in March 2003, in Florida
  • Highly contagious, especially in kennels, shelters, grooming parlors, dog parks
  • Signs include persistent cough, fever, nasal discharge, lack of energy, lack of appetite
  • Nearly 20% of infected dogs will develop high fever and pneumonia
  • Spread through direct contact; cough or sneeze; contaminated hands, clothing, surfaces

My dog’s records say she’s received the Parainfluenza vaccine already.  That’s the same thing as the H3N8 Flu, right?
No.  Parainfluenza is a different virus, unrelated to the (relatively) newly discovered H3N8.  Your pet’s immune system will know the difference!

My dog is already vaccinated against Bordetella (Kennel Cough.)  Isn’t that the same thing?
No.  Although the symptoms may look the same, the organisms responsible are different.  Bordetella is caused by bacteria; Canine Influenza is caused by a virus.  Vaccinating against one does not automatically provide protection against the other.

How can I tell whether my dog needs the Canine Flu vaccination?
The same situations that call for the Bordetella vaccine, also call for the Flu shot. Check this list* to see which situations apply to your pet:

  • Pet comes from a shelter, rescue group, breeding kennel, pet store
  • Pet boards at a kennel or goes to doggie daycare
  • Pet attends group training classes
  • Pet goes to a groomer, dog parks, or meets other dogs during its daily walks
  • Pet is entered into dog shows
  • Pet comes into contact with other dogs in veterinary clinic or pet store

How many Canine Flu shots does my dog need?
Initially, dogs should receive two Flu shots spaced 2-4 weeks apart; after that, one booster yearly is recommended.

So if my pet gets the Canine Flu shot, it won’t develop the disease?
The Canine Flu vaccine makes it much less likely that your pet will develop the disease.  And if he does get sick, he is more likely to have a mild case and recover more quickly than a dog that has not been vaccinated.

Why did the veterinarian give my dog antibiotics, if the Canine Flu is a virus?
The doctor may opt to treat suspected secondary bacterial infections with antibiotics.  Bacterial infections are often responsible for a thick yellow/green nasal discharge that can accompany the Flu, but there can be other symptoms, as well.   

Remember:  when your pet is sick, its immune system is fighting the primary illness, but it is still vulnerable to other diseases that come along.  In our clinic, we call those secondary infections “opportunistic” because they are taking advantage of the opportunity infect a pet with a weakened immune system.  And, unfortunately, Mother Nature has no law against people or pets suffering more than one illness at a time.

Learn more about reducing your dog’s risk of contracting Canine Influenza.

*Borrowed from “Canine Influenza: What do I need to know?” by Intervet Schering-Plough Animal Health. Pamphlet is available at our office.

This article was originally posted on November 10, 2011 and November 14, 2012.

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1. We are expecting a shipment of Seresto collars for small dogs (under 18 lbs) to arrive by Monday. The Seresto rebate is valid for purchases made through Saturday, November 30th, so claim your collar soon!

2. We carry safe, healthy pet treats for dogs that are on Hill’s Prescription Diet foods (specifically b/d, c/d, g/d, h/d, j/d, k/d, r/d, w/d.) You don’t have to deny your sweet pooch his treats any longer – pick up a pack at our clinic today!

Hill's Pet Treats - the healthy alternative.

Hill’s Pet Treats – the healthy alternative.

3. Our office will be closed all day on Wednesday, November 27th. This is a change from the original schedule, which showed us closing at Noon on the 27th. Please make a note of it.

4. Jerry Coffey of Chelsea Design-Build ( came by to hang a multi-tier magazine rack, so I can finally get those waiting room magazines off the chairs and hung up in plain sight. I capped off the mag rack with a few corkboard strips, which now serve as the bulletin area.

Magazines on the wall - not on the chairs.

Magazines on the wall – not on the chairs.

5. Jerry also installed a new baseboard along the front of the reception desk, to gussy it up a bit. Next up: fresh paint on the baseboard.

Almost finished - just needs paint.

Almost finished – just needs paint.


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Here’s a sampling of the items people are tweeting this month:

 1. OnlyMinions @iQuotesJokes
Have you ever realized that the eyebrow hair on a dog never ends? Dogs are covered in eyebrow hair. Dogs are walking eyebrows.

 2. Psychology @Psychological
Dogs can sense sadness in humans and will often attempt to make their owners happier by initiating cuddling.

 3. Cute Emergency @CuteEmergency
The tinier the dog, the cuter it is!

 4. Zooey Deschanel @ZooeyDeschanel
I wish my dogs could text me.

 5. Found Things @FoundThings
I’m a cat person, but these had me in stitches: high-speed photos of wet dogs shaking their heads

 6. Story Of My Life! @Derpey
Rabbits jump and they live for 8 years. Dogs run and they live for 15 years. Turtles do nothing and they live for 150 years. Lesson learned.

 7. Brandi B @horriblebrandi
I’m pretty sure dogs think exclusively in exclamation points and question marks

 8. Princess Girlfriend @Princess_GF_
Does anyone else change the lyrics in songs to be about their pets and then sing it to their pet? Just me? Awkward.

 9. Sawyer Hartman @SawyerHartman
how come whenever a dog steps on your laptop, they always step on the power button?? its like they know …

10. Cute Emergency @CuteEmergency
They say pets look like their owners… I didn’t think they meant THIS close though

Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy.



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Every year, around Turkey Time (that’s Thanksgiving and Christmas), pets are rushed to the emergency room with a sudden onset of illness after sharing the family meal. So what’s going on with all those animals?

The answer is: acute pancreatitis.

[How do you say that word?  Try this: pan-cree-uh-tie-tis]

The pancreas is a V-shaped abdominal organ that produces digestive enzymes and insulin. (Insulin regulates blood sugar. A lack, or insufficient quantity, of insulin results in diabetes.) 

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, in which the organ essentially digests itself via the enzymes it produces.

[Where did pancreatitis rank in VPI’s pet insurance claims in 2011? Click here to find out.]

What causes acute pancreatitis?
Common causes are:

  • high-fat diets (long-term)
  • singular high-fat meal (like meat trimmings)
  • obesity
  • infection
  • blockage of the pancreatic duct
  • abdominal injury or surgery
  • hyperstimulation by certain drugs and venom

Because of the high fat content of many holiday feasts, pets that are fed from the table are at serious risk of becoming gravely ill. In some cases, pancreatitis will be fatal.

We recommend feeding your pet its own food prior to mealtime, to make it less likely to beg. If you or your guests are tempted to share food with Fluffy and Fang, we recommend moving your pets to a separate area of the house during mealtime and after-dinner cleanup.

Let your guests know that your pets are on a strict diet and cannot have table food. If you have to – blame the vet! We’re always happy to play wet blanket when it comes to giving pets unnecessary – and even harmful – treats.

Symptoms of pancreatitis
Watch for:

  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • weakness
  • depression
  • collapse from shock

How do you know if a pet is experiencing abdominal pain?
Look for these signs:

  • restlessness
  • panting
  • trembling
  • hunched-up posture
  • “praying” posture
  • resting on cool surfaces
  • vocal or physical response to touch (on the belly)

Which types of pets are most at risk of pancreatitis?
Normally, in this type of article, I list the age span, breeds, and gender of dog or cat most commonly affected by the disorder. I am not going to do that in this post for one specific reason: I do not wish to give any pet owner the impression that his or her pet is “safe” from pancreatitis and can join in the family meal. We just don’t recommend it for any pet.

Take Action
If you believe your cat or dog may have pancreatitis (even at a non-holiday time of year), take him to the nearest Veterinary Emergency Hospital. Immediate intervention in a critical care setting will give your pet the best chance at recovery.

Remember: some cases of pancreatitis can be deadly, so prevention and early intervention are key to your pet’s good health.

VPI Holiday poster

Instructions for Veterinary Clients
Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice
The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult


This article was originally posted on November 19, 201 2.

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Please make note of our holiday schedule*. 

Office will be closed Wednesday, November 27th and Thursday, November 28th

will re-open 9 AM on Friday, November 29th.

Office will be closed Tuesday, December 24th and Wednesday December 25th

will re-open 9 AM Thursday, December 26th.

New Year’s:
Office will close at Noon on Tuesday, December 31st

will re-open 9 AM Friday, January 3rd.

As always, we recommend ordering your pets’ prescription diets, medicines, and supplies in sufficient quantities to last through the holidays.

If your pet has a medical emergency, contact Blue Pearl Emergency Hospital in Virginia Beach at 757-499-5463.

arctic wildlife vintage image graphicsfairy4sm

*This schedule is subject to change. We will announce any changes as they are made.

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     Here’s a possibility that’ll leave you itchy the rest of the day: Maybe it’s bedbugs.

     The U.S. is being hit with a resurgence of these nasty vermin since the most effective pesticides have been outlawed.  And now comes word that our pets may be bothered by the little blood-suckers, as well.  That makes sense; bedbugs live on blood and they aren’t terribly picky about the source. Read on:

My dog scratches all the time and has bug bites, but I don’t see fleas.

     If your pet’s been keeping you awake nights with the sounds of constant scratching and chewing, and you’re plagued with itchy welts, too, bedbugs could be the culprits.

How do I find the little suckers?

     Get a flashlight, pull back the sheets and mattress covers and look for specks of blood, droppings, shed skins and eggshells and the little brown bugs themselves.  Inspect behind the headboard and all around the mattress and boxspring, especially at the seams.  Check nearby furniture, including chairs, nightstands, and bureaus.  The bugs like to insert themselves into the thinnest cracks and crevices, so examine all spots, however small.  Remember to inspect the undersides of furniture, as well.

EEEEK!  I found some!  Now what?

     If you discover an infestation, call a professional licensed exterminator for help.  Some companies use insecticides to combat the bugs, while others use extreme heat-producing appliances.

Where do bedbugs come from?

     Well, kids, when a mommy bedbug and a daddy bedbug love each other very much – oh wait, that’s not what you meant, is it?  We’ll save that story for another time.  Bedbugs can be transported in on used furniture, clothing, and suitcases.  I’ve made it a habit to travel with a Maglite flashlight and carefully check the bed and other furniture in hotel rooms.  For Craigslist fanatics, beware the Curb Alert – free furniture is not a bargain if it comes with bugs.

If I have bedbugs, does that mean my house is dirty?

     Bedbugs don’t distinguish between dirty homes and clean ones.  They’re just looking for a food source and that is you.  And sometimes your pet.  Cleanliness has nothing to do with it.

Are bedbug bites dangerous?

     They’re more annoying than anything.  The bites may become infected due to excessive scratching.  Otherwise, bedbugs are not known to transmit disease.  In severe infestations, though, a patient may develop anemia. 

Where can I go to see bedbug photos that will freak me out and make me feel itchy all night?

     Glad you asked!  The College of Agriculture at the University of Kentucky has an informative PDF on bedbugs here.

How many beds could a bedbug bug if a bedbug could bug beds?

     Tragically, that question remains unanswered to this day.


Some information for this article was gleaned from an interview betweenClinician’s Brief and Dr. Susan Little.

This article was originally posted on November 18, 2010.

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