Monday, January 31, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Watch This!

No matter what size or breed of dog you have, there are many venues where both of you can participate in activities to enhance your relationship.  The days of just having a dog sit on the sofa with you as an only option are over.  Many people are taking an active interest in agility, obedience, dance, flyball and even dock diving.

Agility is a team sport where you run a predetermined course directing your dog to navigate various obstacles like tunnels, teeter-totters, weave poles and jumps.  Many venues now have games where you compete for points.

Obedience is like a control competition.  how well does your pet listen to your commands?  Will he sit or lie down when told?  Will she come when called or stay when told?  Can he walk through a crowd and only listen to you?  It seems quite difficult, but with a little practice, most dogs can do this.  Competition dance is like obedience, but less strict and to music.

For dogs that are much more active and perhaps not as controlled, flyball and dock diving are for you.  Flyball is a competition of how fast your dog can go out and get a tennis ball and bring it back.  There are often teams of dogs and handlers.  For those dogs that like swimming, dock diving is the sport for you.  whether your dog can jump 5 feet or 25 feet off a dock, it is exhilarating to watch.

Here are a few links if you are interested:

For information about learning these great sports, check out the Greater Racine Kennel Club ( 

Todd Whitney, DVM

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Looking For a Home

Inky is a beautiful, black, male cat with Feline Leukemia. 
He's about 5 years of age. 
He has been waiting patiently for a spot at the rescue to open for him,
and would really love to go to a good, loving home. 
He prefers to be the only cat in the house or have another Leukemia positive playmate. 
If you, or anyone you know would like to consider adoption,
please ask our staff for details!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thoughts on Nutrition

We often stress to our clients the importance of preventative medicine, and good nutrition is one of the easiest ways to insure a healthy pet.  Many problems we see can be helped with a better diet.

One of the easiest things we can do is feed dry food, which, along with regular home care, will help decrease dental disease.  Pets that are fed canned food need more dentals (and this will cost you more money).

An easy pitfall that many people fall into is to buy inexpensive pet food to save money.  In reality, though, these foods end up costing you more money over the course of a year.  These foods are inexpensive because many of the ingredients are cheap fillers.  More fillers equates to your pet eating more on a daily basis, which means more pet food per year than with premium diets.  (This also means more stools to pick up, and who wants to do that?)

We also have to consider the ingredients.  There is no reason that your pet's food needs sugar, sucrose, or corn syrup.  These are just sweetners that make poor food taste better.  Another unnecessary ingredient is food coloring.  This is just added to make the food look better to us.

Feeding premium diets provides better teeth, skin and liver function, and it is cheaper on a yearly basis.  It all starts when that new puppy or kitten becomes part of our family.  Feeding the appropriate puppy or kitten food will go a long way toward providing a lifetime of proper nutrition.

Todd Whitney, DVM

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Worries About Chocolate

181/365 Souffle starts
January and February are the waning months of "chocolate season," when the Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' (ASPCA's) Poison Control Center gets the majority of its 6,000-plus chocolate-related calls. 

Most take place between Halloween and Valentine's Day, says Tina Wismer, DVM, DABVT, DABT, senior director of veterinary outreach and education for the ASPCA. 

Unlike past years, however, Wismer has noticed  two emerging trends.  "We're seeing more serious chocolate poisonings because the American palate is changing," she says.  "It used to be we loved good old Hershey's chocolate, but now we like the dark stuff, which has higher levels of the toxic xanthine compound."

Wismer is also reporting more pets ingesting marijuana along with the chocolate.  "We get a lot of calls concerning dogs that get into marijuana brownies or chocolate chip cookies.  Evidently, these treats are popular Christmas gifts.

"This creates confusing side effects," she says.  "At first, the dogs are agitated and may vomit.  Then, the marijuana takes over and they calm down.  Sometimes the caller will come right out and tell us, especially in states which marijuana is legal,"  Wismer says, "but, in many cases, they do not.  We also get calls from veterinarians who are trying to diagnose a chocolate-related problem and are puzzled by the symptoms.  Our advise is: 'Have you asked about marijuana?'  We're not trying to be the drug police," she adds.  "We want to treat the dog, and if we don't know what it got into, it makes it a lot more difficult. 

Taken from AAHA Trends Magazine, January/February 2011

The ASPCA's Poison control hot line in our useful links tab.

Another great resource is National Geographic's interactive resource

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ring, Ring....Ring, Ring

Our telephone system, after almost 10 years of service, died yesterday 1/17/11.  While the new system is being wired, programed and installed (about a 7-10 day process), we are down to 1 phone line.  If you call in and it rings continuously, we are helping another client, please hang up and try again.  We apologize for this inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

***this is a great opportunity to get set up on the pet portal to email us, request refills and see all of your pet's reminders, head over to our website and click on the pet portal to set yours up today!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bringing Home Baby

Congratulations!  You and your husband have a new baby girl!  She's beautiful.  Everyone thinks she is wonderful....well the cat's not so sure.  To cats (and dogs), babies can be very confusing additions to the house.  New parents are excited but stressed.  We may forget to pet the cat, play with the cat or even feed the cat according to his regular routine.  As for the baby, it smells weird, acts unpredictably, and is the new center of the universe.  All of this can be very disconcerting for our loving companion.  How can we make this transition a little easier?

It's best to start preparing before you even bring the baby home.  When you start setting up the baby's room, let the cat explore the newly decorated room and it's scents.  If you'll want the cat to stay away from the crib (or out of the room entirely), set booby traps like upside-down carpet runner in the crib ahead of time.  By the time the baby is in that room, the cat will have learned that it's not a place where he should go.  If your husband takes home one of baby's blankets while you an the newborn are still at the hospital, the cat can get used to the baby's scent before the actual meeting of baby and pet.  When you bring the baby home, all interactions should be supervised and positive.  Give the cat attention and treats with the baby in the room so the cat knows good things happen around the baby.  Cats love routine, so try to keep his routine as regular as you can.  If your cat has a chance to get used to things gradually and knows that he is still loved, he will be (almost) as happy as you are about your new baby.

Kelly Wagner, CVT

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How To Be An Informed Owner

Zoonosis (zo-o-no-sis).  Not a very pretty word, now is it?  Wait 'til you know what it means!!  The World Health Organization definition is: "Those diseases or infections which are naturally transmitted between vertebrate mammals and man."  For our purposes, dogs and cats to humans, and specifically for this article, problems associated with parasites.  As veterinarians, we take an oath not only to maintain the health of animals, but through our activities to also ensure that interactions between pets and people is not a public health concern.  But we need your help.  In the following lines, we will discuss these concerns and how to avoid becoming a victim of zoonosis.

Most of the parasites we are familiar with are those living in our pets' intestines.  Roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, giardia and coccideosis are all potential human pathogens.  The diseases are past in a fecal oral route.  I don't mean a poop sandwich, but minute particles of feces on our pets, in their mouths (have you seen the places your pet can reach?), in the soil, standing water, our floors, carpets, upholstery, bed linens, etc. etc. etc.  Multiply this by the many thousands of eggs shed daily by parasites and their ability to survive years in the environment under the harshest of circumstances.  It paints a daunting picture.  So what can we do?  Number one; stop the shedding of eggs into the environment.  Have your puppy or kitten dewormed, have adult pets' stool tested regularly (every 6 months), and use monthly products to prevent infestation.  (Heartworm preventatives are very effective.)  Pick up feces in the yard and litter box daily.  Wash hands and fruits and veggies.  Don't go barefoot, and do not drink water not known to be for human consumption.

The other important groups of parasites are those that live on the outside of the pet, specifically fleas and ticks.  Pets and people get tapeworms from ingesting fleas.  We are all aware of the threat of Lyme disease from ticks which can also spread related diseases of Ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  If our pets are free of external parasites, then we reduce our own exposure.  Avoidance is simple due to the monthly flea and tick products currently available.  These products should be applied as early in the pet's life as the label allows and then used monthly forever!

Also, remember that our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. are most at risk and, as with so many other things in life, they depend on us to protect them.  Please help us help you keep the relationship between you and your pet a healthy one.  Bring us gifts of poop whenever you come to see us, and take parasite control seriously for the well being of both the pet and the human members of your family.

Brian C. Ray, DVM

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Potty Time

Potty training is a common obstacle when raising a puppy, specifically with a small breed.  There are some tools and rules that can help.

First of all, it is recommended that you practice crate training.  Corralling a puppy in a kitchen as opposed to a crate isn't often effective.  The kitchen is still part of the house, and puppies can't distinguish the kitchen from any other part of the house, so if it's OK to potty in the kitchen, then it's OK to potty in any other part of the house.

You will need to purchase a crate that will suit your dog at maturity so that your growing puppy doesn't grow out of his crate.  Most giant crates come with a divider panel that you can adjust as your puppy grows.  Keeping your puppy crated during the night and while you are gone will keep any potential mess contained.  Also, since most dogs do not appreciate soiling their sleeping area, a crate encourages them to hold it until they can go outside.  However, holding too long can be harmful.  Puppies, depending on the age, need to be let outside to potty OFTEN, and yes, that means during the NIGHT too!  Generally, all puppies need to potty first thing in the morning, as soon as they wake up from any nap, during play time, and right after they eat.

When letting your puppy out of the crate to go potty it is important not to excite your puppy before you are able to get them outside, otherwise they may not make it to the back yard.  Giving a command like "pee-pee"
 or "potty" is usually a good cue to get them to know what is expected of them.  As soon as they deliver, praise and treat them.  ***This time of year when it's very cold can be challenging for potty training.  Remember to give them the time necessary to get the job done.  Rushing because we want to get inside can lead to accidents.

It's also very important to not allow yourself to become lax!  We often think that our puppies are 100% potty trained by a young age, but this is when "accidents" begin to happen because owners let their guard down.  Generally, most medium-large breeds will need potty training until 12 months of age or older.  Small breeds tend to take even longer.  Of course, this isn't a rule, just an observed average.  Most puppies end up continuing crate training up to two years of age or longer simply to prevent destructive behavior, and this reinforces potty training.

So remember, the hardest part of potty training is self-discipline and being consistent with your puppy.  Happy potty training!

Stephanie Severson, CVT

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Here are five of the most common signs of an arthritic dog:

  1. My dog is having problems getting up and down and is reluctant to climb stairs.
  2. My dog isn't as active anymore, and she seems stiff or limps after exercise or after getting up from a nap.
  3. My dog's legs have gotten skinnier, and he shakes or shivers a lot not.
  4. My dog cries whenever someone pets his rear area, and he walks with an arch.
  5. My dog is now 7 plus years old and suddenly snapping at us and the kids.

Do any of these apply to your dog?  Maybe we should see him/her for an exam and some blood work.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Monday Funny ~ Fed Up

Feeling full after the holidays?

Happy Monday!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Help Your Pet Like The Vet

Did you get that new pet for Christmas?  It's time to get your new puppy or kitten into the veterinary hospital to start it's vaccine series.  This is a crucial time in the training of your new pet.  Annual visits to the veterinarian can be made fun and easy by following some simple tips.

Teach your puppy to feel like the animal hospital is the "cookie place"  by bringing lots of tasty treats.  Every time puppy does something brave, obedient, or just to help reduce the anxiety of being in a new place, praise and reward him to reinforce that good behavior.  The veterinarians here at Belle City know how important first impressions can be on our newest little patients.  You may notice that, during your puppy's exam and as vaccines are being administered, the best distraction is a crumbled-up treat in front of your puppy.  This keeps puppy's mind off of what the doctor is doing and focused on the tasty treat.

Not every visit has to be about seeing a doctor.  If you have a growing puppy, bring him in once a month for a weight check or when you come to pick up food or medication.  The more he comes here and has a good time, the less afraid he will be in the future. 

We all know it's heartbreaking if our new puppies cry out when they get vaccines, but it is important not to reinforce that behavior.  By becoming emotional along with your already emotional puppy, you are teaching your puppy that every time the doctor touches her, she will get hurt.  The key is to act as if nothing happened: "oh my goodness...what was that?"

Going to the doctor can also be a socializing experience.  If many people touch and pet your puppy, she learns how much fun interaction can be.  HOWEVER, please remember that while you are in the hospital, there could be potentially contagious pets in the waiting room.  Always be careful when visiting!

Going to the veterinarian does not have to be a horrible experience.  If you start early with your puppy or kitten, you make the trip to the veterinarian just another fun outing to share with your pet.

Stephanie Severson, CVT