106 Easter Toxins

The ASPCA has put out their list of the top 5 Easter Toxins. Let’s be careful out there this Easter Weekend!

Chocolate– we all know chocolate is “bad”, but it does depend on the type of chocolate and the size of the dog. Check out the  chocolate calculator link. So if my little 16# terrier ate 2 oz of dark chocolate, it is WAY worse than 2 oz of milk chocolate. Did you know white chocolate isn’t toxic?

Lilies– Keep cats away from Easter lilies, even their leaves and vase water. See the link for the types of “true” lilies.

Easter grass– this plastic stuff isn’t digestible and clogs up intestines. Be super careful if you use it in Easter baskets where it might get food smells on it.

Table food– Many of us will make special holiday foods like ham or brisket. They can be fatty and very rich for our pets, so only tiny amounts if you must share. And I have a picture of peeps on this blog, but peeps aren’t toxic. I just love the photo of rabbit peep getting neutered.

Herbicides– gardeners will often be using herbicides in the spring, so follow the directions, especially if you have pets. Most are safe when dried.


106 Veterinary Care of Dragons

I love Games of Thrones. I am looking forward to seeing the dragons again April 14 in the final season of the HBO series.
I was originally planning on writing an article about the veterinary care and husbandry of bearded dragons, a small pet species that I treat and enjoy. I also just watched the latest Jurassic Park movie that had an actual dinosaur veterinarian! And then I started imaging what it would be like being a veterinarian for the Game of Thrones dragons! So many veterinary principles would still be the same. Here are my thoughts on the care of this exotic “new” species.
While a bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps) is small omnivorous reptile, originally from Australia and quite tame, the Game of Thrones dragons can be quite large, carnivorous, fire belching and quite vicious. So how would I take care of one if Daenerys asked for advice?
Diet: What is the optimum diet for a growing dragon? Sheep? Cattle? Humans? How many a day does one need to eat to optimize growth? I don’t think we know yet, but we would probably want “fresh” healthy prey, not frozen, canned in armor or ill meat (zombies). Do they ever stop growing?
Environment/temperatures: All the reptiles I see are cold blooded, and never do well in the frozen temperatures we saw north of the wall. I can’t imagine flying north is good for our dragon’s metabolism, but they seem to withstand it. Maybe they aren’t cold blooded? Maybe they generate their own heat internally since they breathe forth fire? And what if you are changed to an ice dragon? That may help withstand the cold, but then can Viserion tolerate the heat of Kings Landing?
Training: These dragons seem highly intelligent and very food driven. As a new puppy owner, I know I can get them to do a lot for food. I also know they are high energy and need lots of exercise. Dany figured that out the season when she tried to chain them up to not let them fly, and naughty behavior ensued. I wonder if you could use clicker training on them like Owen does for the velociraptors in Jurassic World? What about pheromones? They do seem calmer when around Dany and her Targaryen “scent” and Jon (spoiler alert), so could we bottle that smell and tame the dragons? They obviously can be voice trained as in the “dracarys” command to breathe fire, maybe we can teach them some less lethal commands such as sit, roll over, fetch.
Parasite control: Reptiles commonly get parasites from their prey, so I think dragons would be no exception. I imagine those hordes of Dothraki might have some parasites. We could certainly send out a fecal to look for parasites if we could find a fresh dropping. Or maybe the fire inside kills all internal parasites? What about external parasites? Maybe we could have Dany apply a topical dewormer on their back based on their estimated weights.
Nail trim: I don’t even want to try, but the Fear Free approach might have Dany conditioning them to allow foot exams, then gentle touching and eventually filing or Dremel tool. But maybe their nails should stay sharp to help them catch prey like a raptor? She should have addressed this training when they were small and perching on her naked shoulders. Ouch.
Reproduction: Well dragons obviously lay eggs. But are these 3 dragons related? Are we sure about their sexes? How does one sex a dragon? Does it matter is they are the only dragons in Westeros? Do we want to have more dragons? Couldn’t we just clone them like Jurassic World?
Euthanasia: The current euthanasia of reptiles is sedation, followed by injection of euthanasia solution directly into the heart. Even then it is a slow process. Freezing a reptile is considered inhumane. These dragons seem to have a weak spot for dragon glass. But when Viserion was struck with a magic ice spear, and fell into a frozen lake, she became an undead ice dragon. Winter is coming has just taken on a whole new meaning with more bad tidings. I have questions and where did I put that dragon glass just in case?

105 Heartworm Awareness Month Specials

April is National Heartworm Awareness Month again, and we have decided to kick it off a monthly special to help save you money on your dog’s heartworm testing and medicines.

For the month of April, 2019, we are offering a FREE Heartworm test (regular value $25) with the purchase of 12 months of heartworm prevention here. We carry both Interceptor (which gets heartworms and intestinal worms), and Trifexis (which gets fleas, heartworms, and intestinal worms). Plus the manufacturer, Elanco, is also offering a rebate on each product ($15 on Interceptor, and $40 for Trifexis), so you get more money back from Elanco after the purchase. We do need to have a current exam on file, and the special only goes until the end of April.

Our online pharmacy, VetSource, is also offering some manufacturer rebates at different weeks in April, which might help if you shop online for many different brands of heartworm preventions. We do need to have a current (< 12 month) heartworm test before we will approve online heartworm medicines, but we are trying to give many options. There are even TOPICAL heartworm preventions that you can get online, and we are looking into 6 month heartworm injections (no more pills). Remember that heartworms are transmitted by mosquitos, so all dogs are affected.

Goodness knows we get mosquitos, and they will be out if larger numbers soon.

https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/incidence-maps https://www.elancorebates.com/

104 Online Pharmacies

Many of us have used human or pet online pharmacies. They are not all created equal. They aren’t great for getting antibiotics for a sinus infection, acute anti-nausea medicine, or pain medicines that we need right now, but they serve a big niche for chronic medications for all of us. Plus they offer convenience, and often are cheaper than I can even offer them.

How can you tell a good online pharmacy from a shady one? https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-to-find-an-online-pharmacy-you-can-trust-1123983 is a good resource for human pharmacies, but the principals are the same for vet pharmacies. We especially look for the VIPPS certificate. I also look for reviews among my peers, and past legal problems. Pet Med Express has had numerous legal violations and less than average customer service so I am not a fan of their business practices.

Here at Garden Ridge Animal Hospital we have linked to online pharmacies for over 10 years. They are great at offering pet parents choices on brands and prices on products like heartworm and flea preventions, arthritis medicines, and even prescription diets (like Hills , Purina, and Royal Canin). Currently, we are using Vet Source, and the link is on our website, gardenridgevet.com. You can look at all their products before having to create an account. For instance, your dog is a picky treat taker but has always like Heartgard. This is no problem because Vet Source always has Heartgard, in every size, even though I don’t carry that particular heartworm prevention.

The other niche that online pharmacies fill is getting automatic refills on medicines. The Vet Source ”autoship” monthly heartworm prevention dose (shipped free) is very popular in a household with multiple dogs or busy lives where we forget to give the medicine monthly. When it arrives once a month, it’s a built in reminder to give it on time. Plus the cost of those twelve doses of prevention is split into 12 payments on your credit card instead of one big hit. That is better for some families’ budgets.
Prescription foods are another popular item to “autoship”. You set up the interval for the next shipment, so you never run out on a late Friday afternoon. Vet Source carries Hill’s Prescription diets, Purinas, and Royal Canin, and they are shipped conveniently to your door, so you won’t have to carry heavy dog food from your car.

As always, any prescription item will have to be approved by me, or my staff. We make sure you are getting the correct product, in the correct dosage. Most clients receive their order in 3-5 days. They are working on 2 day turn around, but we aren’t there yet.

Vet Source won’t price match Pet Med Express, but they are always “comparable”. These large pharmacies get big discounts from the manufacturers that I can’t begin to compete with. Vet Source often has weekly discount codes on selected items to rack up the savings. I wouldn’t be surprised to see selected heartworm and flea preventions on sale in the next month or two. I will try to put alerts up on my website or the Facebook page when we see a good one.

If you haven’t used Vet Source before, check it out. You might save some time and money while offered excellent vet approved products to your four legged children.


103 The Top 10 Animal Toxins of 2018

National Poison Prevention Week- March 17-23, 2019.

It’s that time of year when the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center examines its data and releases the Top 10 categories of toxins pets come in contact with each year. The data was gathered from about 213,773 cases of potential animal poisonings examined by the APCC in 2018.
Here are the top 10 toxins, beginning with the category which caused the most calls to APCC toxicologists.

1) OTC Medications:
Over-the-counter medications were the most common group of toxicants pets ingested this year. This is a varied group of medications including items such as vitamins, OTC pain medications (acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen), herbal supplements, antihistamines and cold and flu medications. Ingestion of OTC medications are usually accidental, but I have seen owners give too much aspirin for pain, over several days. Last year this was #2, after human prescriptions.

2) Human Prescriptions:
Medications prescribed for people dropped to number two this year. ADHD medications, antidepressants and heart medications make up a significant amount of these cases, which is typically what I have seen, along with birth control and topical hormones. Remember to keep all medications out of reach of pets.

3) Food:
Food is number 3. Xylitol, grapes and raisins, and onions and garlic make up most of these cases. Xylitol is one that I worry about because it is in many sugar free gums, and not harmful for people. Who knew gum could be toxic?

4) Chocolate:
Chocolate moved up another spot from last year! The popularity of chocolate gifts for occasions like Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter adds to the danger. If your pet has eaten some chocolate, call us or the poison control center. We have a calculator to determine if the amount and type of chocolate is enough to be toxic. (Dark chocolate is stronger and more toxic)

5) Veterinary Products:
Chewable medications and misread labels are a big reason pets run into trouble with veterinary products. I have had more than one patient eat six months of heartworm prevention at a time. Those are expensive dog “treats.” Make sure to read the prescription labels and keep the containers safe. Just because it is childproof doesn’t mean it is dog proof.

6) Household Items:
This group includes cleaning products, moth balls, batteries, detergents, cigarettes, and alcohol. Or maybe alcohol should be food?

7) Rodenticides:
Rodenticide exposure is increased from last year. Unfortunately pets, along with rodents, find baits very tasty. We had a patient die this winter after eating rat bait from a bait station. While anticoagulants and bromethalin baits are still available, cholecalciferol baits made a comeback this year. Rats are tough.

8) Insecticides:
Insecticide exposure cases decreased for the second year in a row . Insecticides includes items such as ant baits, bug sprays and yard products. Ant baits use attractants like peanut butter which unfortunately attract pets as well as ants. I don’t see nearly as many insecticide toxicities as I used to. Thank goodness.

9) Plants:
Plants remained in ninth place. Indoor and outdoor plants as well as prepared bouquets can present major problems. The APCC app has lots of helpful information regarding plant exposures as well as other toxins. Would this include marijuana and edibles? I expect to see more therapeutic uses of CBD oil for humans and pets, which seems to have low toxicity.

10) Garden Products:
Garden products still came in last. Fertilizer, bone meal and compost are all garden products many dogs find irresistible. Many pet owners call about herbicides like Roundup, but they usually aren’t tasty, even though we commonly use them in pet areas like yards.

102 Local Emergency Pet Clinics

The Flower Mound Emergency Pet Clinic and the North Texas Emergency Pet Clinic have both been purchased by an outstanding veterinary corporation, Southern Veterinary Partners. These two local emergency clinics were started by local vets who pooled together as shareholders to start the corporation to build and manage them. I have been a shareholder of the NTEPC almost since the beginning in the 90s, and with the FMEPC since it was built in the 2000s. This now means I am not a shareholder in these 2 clinics, but I still highly recommend them to my clients. If my puppies or Sarge were to get sick at night or on a weekend, I would take them there.

Being purchased by a large vet corporation has many positives, especially for an emergency clinic. They have greater success in finding emergency specialist vets and nurses, and usually offer more benefits than a small practice can offer. They have better purchasing power for medicines and equipment. I expect great things to happen at our two local emergency clinics.

The other local emergency hospital is the Center for Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Care, which is a large full service hospital with day specialists in neurology, neurosurgery, and internal medicine. It is conveniently located in south Lewisvlle, just off 121 tollway, near Costco. They have an outstanding reputation also and are open 24 hours. I have referred neurology and daytime emergency patients there since it opened a few years ago.

We are very fortunate here in Lewisville to have 3 great options for our pet emergencies. Just like the numerous small and large emergency clinics for humans, it is great to have choices.

101 Puppy Toys

So last week I started Puppy Kindergarten for my little Dachshund mix, Chuck. We had a small class of 4 dogs, so it was easy for Chuck to focus. We all brought quiet chew toys so the puppies could entertain themselves as the instructor was talking. We also had some reward treats. I brought his favorite (so far), little “Slim Jim” style jerky dog treats from Winco that I can pinch off little tiny bits easily and some cooked chicken.

We started off with rewarding their response to their name. No problem there. We move on to sitting, staying for 5 seconds, then longer. Chuck is up to 15 seconds. Then we started stepping away or circling him. We didn’t get very far yet, but it was a new lesson for both of us. We walked on a leash inside the gym keeping a bubble around each puppy so they weren’t distracted. We ended by calmly walking around, “doing a drive by” the other puppies. They really didn’t greet each other yet. That will come later.

So by the end of the class, each puppy had 45-60 minutes of undivided time with their pet parent, and lots of rewards for performing the commands. No punishment, no choke collars, just lots of love and treats.

I have learned there are 5 kinds of toys: Passive, Active, Working, Old and New. Who knew? Passive toys are quiet chew toys like raw hides, and Bully sticks and yummy filled Kongs. Active toys are tennis balls, squeak toys, ropes, Frisbees. Chuck especially loves to destroy squeak toys. Working toys are ones that stimulate them mentally, and usually dispense a treat. I haven’t use this kind before, but the concept sounds great and sturdier then my plastic coke 2 liter bottle filled with kibble. The Old toys and New toys are self-explanatory, and as parents we all use this trick.

I discovered that the Kong website has a Kong Box, with 4 toys selected for your pet’s size and they mail right to your house. I chose the Kong brand because I was familiar with it and they are the only toys so far that are standing up to Chuck’s teeth. I will share more after it arrives.

100 My Grass Fed Beef

Many of my clients know that my husband and I have a small ranch in East Texas with cows and bees. I know have much honey yet, but we will be “graduating” 3 black Brangus steers to the freezer in late spring. We don’t sell individual cuts of meat, but we do sell “half a cow”, or 2 families may split “half a cow”. These two year old steers were born on own ranch, grass fed on pastures that haven’t had any herbicides or pesticides in over 20 years (as long as the previous owner was managing it). They have been vaccinated and deworm by me personally, and we have not used hormone injections. They will be fattened up on spring hay by graduation day, but they look pretty good right now.

We are taking orders now for interested families. When the “graduation” day comes, we haul the steer to a processing facility in Sulphur Springs, and the butcher turns him into steaks, roasts, and hamburger. Some people even want the liver, tail, tongue, etc. After a few days of cold aging, the thickly sealed packaged up portions are ready to pick up. Typical cow weight has been #1000-1300, “dressed out” 60% to #600-700 of meat. So “half a cow” is #300 -#350. We are asking $6 a pound, and you pick up the meat. You will need a BIG FREEZER to store #300 of beef, but it will last you a long time since it is properly packaged. We are still eating some hamburger from my husband’s favorite cow that never got pregnant, and she graduated 24 months ago.

If you have never had grass fed beef, the fat looks different than feed lot beef. The fat is slightly yellow from grass pigments, not snowy white from GMO corn. You can’t see the lack or hormones or chemical residues, and you can’t taste it, but they aren’t there.

Some people wonder how I can raise an animal for food. That’s what they are raised for, but we do it so they have a have a wonderful cow life, and one bad day. And they taste great!


99 Puppy Kindergarten

Well it’s time I got my puppies into Kindergarten. Puppy kindergarten, that is. Just like children go to school, so can puppies. The trick if finding a good fit.

Current behavior literature suggests puppy training begins with socialization at 7-16 weeks, because they are more open to new things and do learn faster. Our previous recommendation was to wait until 6 months to start because they had a longer attention span. These classes are more than just play time, just like kindergarten is more than playing.

I am going to take one of my puppies to a local trainer, Anne O’Neil. I have taken my Sheltie, Sarge, to her for his Good Manners Class, an Agility Class, and a Sniff and Search Class over the years. My puppy goal is to nail down sitting and coming when called, even when distracted. I also hope we learn how to walk on a leash without pulling and master the “leave it “ command. Basic stuff. I know the class will be based on positive reinforcement, no punishment. And it will be a great bonding time!

I have been working on the puppy socialization stuff at work, but even I need help. I am not too proud to need professional assistance, and the unique opportunities a group class opens. Kind of like a home schooled child still needs to go on group outings.

The classes are usually in Highland Village, and usually weekly. She also does in home training, which is better for some dogs (like private tutoring). Her next round of puppy classes starts Feb 26, 2019.

For more information on Puppy Kindergarten:
For other classes and website home page: http://www.specialtypettraining.com/

#98 Hills canned food recall due to high Vitamin D

We have looked through our canned food, and initially Feb 1 found none from the recalled lots. We looked again Feb 4 and found 2 lonely cans way in the back from the recalled lots. This does not affect any dry food, or any feline diets (canned or dry).

Here is Hill’s letter:
“Hill’s® Pet Nutrition has voluntarily recalled select canned dog food products due to potentially elevated levels of vitamin D. The official Hill’s announcement and a list of affected food can be found here.

Consumer inquiries can be directed to Hill’s Consumer Affairs at contactus@hillspet.com or (800) 445-5777.

As always, your clients can contact us directly regarding their concerns. Due to the high call volume associated with this voluntary recall, we’ve provided information on vetsource.com where clients can find out what to do if their pet has consumed the affected products. This also gives them the opportunity to request a refund.”

So what is high Vitamin D, and why is it bad? What are the symptoms? Have we seen any cases? Have we heard of any sick dogs?

Vitamin D is a necessary fat soluble vitamin, so excessive amounts can build up the body over time unlike water soluable vitamins like Vitamin C. Many humans have low Vitamin D levels and take seasonally (winter), or year-round if they don’t get enough sunlight. But too much is bad for you or your pet’s body. Vitamin D toxicity can cause elevated blood calcium and phosphorous, which can cause kidney damage, showing symptoms of increased thirst and urination.

Here at Garden Ridge Animal Hospital we haven’t seen any dogs with high calcium lately. Some vets on my online vet forums are wondering if some cases of high calcium might be due to the diet, but no one has confirmed any illnesses directly from the diet, yet.

Blue Buffalo had a similar recall last fall for the same problem, high Vitamin D. Some of us are wondering if all the pet food people get their Vitamin D from the same suppliers.

If your dog did eat canned food with high Vitamin D, and isn’t symptomatic, we believe that merely stopping that diet, and feeding one with normal Vitamin D will allow the body to clear any excessive levels over time. Bloodwork does not need to be run on dogs without symptoms.

More as this story develops.